A Kansas Senate committee is considering a bill that would allow Kansans aged 50 to 64 to renew their driver’s licenses online as well as a bill that would allow Kansas license renewal notices to be sent electronically.
Kent Selk, the driver services manager for the Kansas Department of Revenue’s Division of Vehicles, testified in favor of the two bills in a Senate Transportation Committee hearing Tuesday morning.
“We’re doing all of our efforts to make sure we’re staying at the forefront of stuff and providing as many services as we can, trying to be customer-service friendly, just change people’s perception about licensing,” Selk said after the hearing.
Kansans under the age of 65 must renew their license every six years. To do so, Kansans must pass a vision exam and pay the applicable fees.
Kansans between the ages of 21 and 50 have been able to renew their licenses online for two years through the iKan app. The Division of Vehicles set this age range after consulting with Kansas optometrists and ophthalmologists, Selk said.
However, since the online renewal was introduced, Selk said the Division of Vehicles has received feedback and is now extending the age limit to 64, an idea introduced to the Legislature in SB 326.
“Individuals are like, ‘What happens to me at 51 that I fall apart? What’s the difference?’” Selk said.
The requirements to renew online are the same as at a physical Division of Vehicles location, Selk said. However, to renew online, individuals must have had a vision test within the last 12 months. Moreover, individuals may not renew online two times in a row.
And despite the demand for REAL ID as the Oct. 1 deadline approaches, individuals cannot apply for it online nor can they change their addresses online.
Selk said the Division of Vehicles will be ready to accept the additional online renewals if the bill is passed.
“We didn’t change anything about the process other than let the age go up to 64,” Selk said.
Kansans are currently notified that their licenses are about to expire through colorful postcards that are mailed to license holders. SB 342 would allow Kansans to opt in to receiving email notifications instead of receiving postcards, Selk said.
“It gives us a chance to communicate with you a little sooner,” Selk said. “‘Hey, you’re six months out. You’re 60 days out’ and be cost effective that way.”
Selk said the goal is not to eliminate the postcards altogether but to eliminate them for those who prefer to receive correspondence electronically.
Sen. Kevin Braun, R-Kansas City, said during the hearing that he thought mailings and text messages would be more effective than emails.
“Email has replaced junk mail,” Braun said. “The more effective method for communication in today’s day and age is going back to someone physically having to take something in the mail. If it was dual, where you do both, I’m good with that. I would almost say that a consideration of a text would be even more effective … because that isn’t flooded yet.”
Regardless, Selk said that electronic notifications would be more convenient for many Kansans.
“This could be a little bit better way for us to communicate, be a little clearer, and not look at this busy renewal card that people probably can’t read. You only read so far,” Selk said after the hearing.
Both bills are still being considered by the committee. However, at the conclusion of the hearing, Sen. Mike Petersen (R-Wichita), chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, said he wanted to work both bills fairly quickly.
Nolan Brey is a University of Kansas senior from Sabetha majoring in journalism.