Diverse coalition sends letter opposing gutting of open records law

A diverse coalition of forty-nine groups and individuals from across Kentucky have sent a letter to the Kentucky Senate asking them to vote no on House Bill 312. The bill would make significant changes to Kentucky’s open records law, which the coalition believes would cause significant damage to the law.

According to the letter, the coalition shares a concern “that HB 312 will create unneeded and unwanted impediments to public access, that it will not ease the burden on public agencies, and that it will work a hardship on the Commonwealth.”

The letter outlines the following objections to the bill:

  • A “resident-users only” requirement. The letter notes the experience of other states in implementing such a requirement, including the burden on state workers of determining whether a requester does, in fact, live in the state.
  • The use of a standardized form for all requesters as a condition to records access. Since the Open Records Act already lays out the requirements for a written open records request, the requirement of a particular form is an unnecessary barrier to entry. In addition, the form may require extra personal information which some requesters will be reluctant to share.
  • The elimination of judicial review of open records requests. By making the LRC itself the final arbiter of whether to grant or refuse an open records request, the bill eliminates the normal checks and balances of government, and makes the LRC a law unto itself.
  • The over-broad restriction on parties in a lawsuit that says if documents are obtainable through other means, those documents may not be obtained via an open records request.

The letter is signed by the following organizations and individuals:

The Kentucky Open Government Coalition

Along with the following:

  • ACLU of Kentucky, Louisville
  • AFSCME Indiana Kentucky Council 962, Louisville
  • Americans for Prosperity-Kentucky
  • Andy Mead, Freelance Writer, Lexington
  • Anita Courtney, Public Health Nutritionist, Lexington
  • Bill Bishop, Former Kentucky Journalist, La Grange, Texas
  • Bill Evans, Publisher, Paducah Sun, Mayfield Messenger, Marshall County Tribune Courier, Herald Ledger, Princeton Times Leader. Evans is also Vice President/General Manager at WPSD Local 6
  • Brandon Cox, Former Kentucky New Era Publisher, Owensboro
  • Bruce Engel, Retired Herald-Leader Journalist, Lexington
  • Center for Rural Strategy, Whitesburg
  • Chris Harris, Kentucky House of Representatives (2015-2020)
  • Common Cause Kentucky, Richard Beliles, Louisville
  • Daily Yonder, Whitesburg
  • Daniel Bevarly, Former Executive Director NFOIC, Fort Myers, Florida
  • Dear JCPS, Louisville
  • Forward Kentucky, Louisville
  • Jacalyn Carfagno, Freelance Journalist, Lexington
  • Jacqueline Duke, Keeneland Magazine, Lexington
  • Jamie Lucke, Freelance Journalist, Lexington
  • JCAESP American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 4011, Louisville
  • Jim Wayne, Kentucky House of Representatives (1991-2018)
  • Kentucky Alliance of Retired Americans, Frankfort
  • Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, Berea
  • Kentucky Government Retirees, Frankfort
  • Kentucky Laborers District Council, Lawrenceburg
  • Kentucky Public Retirees, Frankfort
  • Leslie Guttman, Independent Journalist, Lexington
  • Lu-Ann Farrah, Director of Prospect Development, University of Kentucky Healthcare and College of Medicine, Lexington
  • Maria Sorolis, Kentucky House of Representatives (2019-2020)
  • Mark P. Bryant, Attorney, Bryant Law Center, Paducah
  • Mary Sondergard, Retired Herald-Leader Journalist, Lexington
  • Matt Weafer, Publisher, and Matt Francis, Executive Editor, Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer
  • Missouri Sunshine Coalition, Columbia
  • National Conference of Firemen and Oilers District of Local 32BJ/SEIU, Ashland
  • National Freedom of Information Coalition, David Cuillier, Gainesville, Florida
  • Pace Cooke Emmons, National Mental Health First Aid Instructor, Lexington
  • Perry Boxx, News Director of WPSD, Paducah
  • Progress Kentucky, Cynthiana
  • Radio Television Digital News Association, Washington, D.C.
  • Roger Seay, News Director, KFVS TV/Heartland News, Cape Girardeau, Missouri
  • Sarah Brechwald, Attorney, Hopkinsville
  • Save Our Schools Kentucky, Louisville
  • Sharon Suddeath, Retired Teacher and School Administrator, Hopkinsville
  • Teamsters Local 783, Louisville
  • The Associated Press
  • The Bluegrass Institute, Jim Waters, Lexington
  • The Kentucky Gazette, Laura Glasscock, Lexington
  • Veronica Jean Seltzer, Evening Anchor, WTVQ-TV, Lexington
  • Vickie Mitchell, Mitchell Communications, Lexington

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The editorial board of Forward Kentucky. Articles under this author name have been written, edited, and approved by a number of the contributors on this site, as well as the publisher.

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