Time-sensitive alert for 3/11/2021! Call 800-372-7181 and ask the operator to message your Senator and Senate Leadership to “Protect government transparency, STOP HB312!” Message line opens at 7:00AM and the bill may be passed today if not stopped now.
Attempts to make citizen oversight of government more difficult, confusing and even personally dangerous happen every year because politicians HATE having to answer to the public. And this bill is poised to do just that if not stopped.
“Resident only” requirements for using open records create delays and obstructions for resident and nonresident users, chilling public participation and imposing new burdens on public agencies. The proof lies in other states that have adopted these requirements. Homegrown “cottage industries” have sprung up, preying on nonresidents by charging fees to route the requests through a domiciled name.This could include the nonresident seeking information on a suitable nursing home for an aging parent in Kentucky; the nonresident victim of a crime or involved in an automobile accident in Kentucky; or the nonresident living just over the Kentucky state line who has a direct interest in local records.
“Standardized” open records request forms that mandate disclosure of “personally identifiable information” discourage requesters who are reluctant to share personal information with state or local government to certify entitlement to the records they seek. In many cases, they also discourage requesters who don’t own computers or have access to the internet.We must consider all methods of submitting open records requests – including walk-in requesters, requesters who submit requests by fax, and requesters who submit their requests by email – not just snail-mail requests that normally require a return address and may include phone numbers to discuss records or costs, for example.
Eliminating judicial review of the General Assembly’s denials of public records requests is an insult to the public. The public elect the members of the General Assembly and support it through their tax dollars.The law favors disclosure of public records, provides limited exceptions that permit nondisclosure and mandates third-party review where records access disputes arise. This is a self-serving attempt to shield legislators from possible “inconvenience or embarrassment” every other Kentucky public agency must and should accept.