Kentucky State Capitol Building (photo by Daderot [public domain] via Wikimedia Commons)
Kentucky State Capitol Building (photo by Daderot [public domain] via Wikimedia Commons)

Through an emergency administrative regulation filed on January 4 and its implementation, Governor Bevin and his administration have reduced the public’s access to the buildings at the state capitol in Frankfort.

When visitors and activists arrived at the capitol on Tuesday, the first day of session, they encountered the following changes to access:

  • They were not allowed to use the tunnel from the parking garage to the Annex, but had to walk to the front of the Annex to enter.
  • They were not allowed to use the tunnel from the Annex to the Capitol and back, but instead had to walk outside from one to the other. In inclement or winter weather, this tunnel was used by everyone to avoid having to go outside. Now, it’s not available.
  • They were not allowed in certain places in the Capitol that had been public spaces before, including the steps and hallways around the legislative chambers.

Note that none of these limitations are specifically mentioned in the regulation. Instead, they were put in place by the administration, relying on a section of the regulation that states “an agency may impose such additional use restrictions as are necessary …”

The reason given for the changes was to ensure access for emergency personnel, due to an incident during last session where a lawmaker had a medical emergency and emergency personnel had difficulty getting to him due to persons in the Capitol. However, most observers believe the real reason for the changes is a reaction to the rallies and protests that occurred last session, including in the tunnels.

Commenting on the new regulation

Normally, when a regulation is promulgated, the regulation includes notice of a required public comment period and public hearing. This regulation did not, but a member of an advocacy group that regularly visits the Capitol found a notice in a separate document.

Here is the PDF of the regulation, so you can reference it in your comments: http://www.lrc.ky.gov/kar/200/003/020E.pdf

Anyone wishing to give feedback on this regulation and its implementation should note the following:

  • The public comment period is from now until February 28, 2019. Comments must be written and sent to Judy Piazza, Executive Director, Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs, Finance and Administration Cabinet, Capitol Annex Building Room 392, Frankfort, Kentucky 40601.
  • The public hearing will be on February 22, 2019, from 10:00 AM to noon, in room 386 of the Annex. If you intend to speak at this hearing, you must notify the same contact person (Judy Piazza) at least five workdays before the hearing. If no one signs up to speak, the hearing may be canceled.

Ms. Piazza’s phone number is (502) 564-4240, and her email is Judith.Piazza@ky.gov. It is unclear in the notice whether email will suffice for comment or notice to appear.

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