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We are thrilled to announce the launch of the Kentucky Sunshine Law Library in celebration of the fifth year anniversary of Kentucky Open Government Coalition.

Our coalition’s founding goes back to March 2019, when Kentucky's open government community rallied in opposition to a house bill that threatened existing rights of public records access. The community that had focused its efforts to defeat the bill also lamented the nonexistence of a citizens' advocacy group to represent the public's interest. 

Two participants in the discussions, former Kentucky New Era editor, Jennifer P. Brown, and retired assistant attorney general Amye Bensenhaver, considered various options, ultimately deciding to pursue a citizens open government coalition modeled on those that existed in many other states. The seed was planted. 

With steady guidance from the National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC) and local encouragement, the Kentucky Open Government Coalition took root. Our mission: to preserve the rights of Kentuckians under our open records and open meetings laws, to enhance the public's understanding of the laws, and to alert the public to threats to the laws. 

Our co-directors have played a key role in advancing our mission. They are:

  • Jeremy Rogers, Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP (attorney)
  • Scott Horn (software engineer)
  • Austin Horn, Lexington Herald-Leader (politics reporter)
  • Tom Kiffmeyer, Morehead State University (Associate Professor of History)

Five years after we incorporated as a non-partisan, non-profit corporation, we continue to fulfill our mission through outreach, education, advocacy, assistance, and service. With the Kentucky Sunshine Law Library, we are proud to provide a new public resource that continues in these traditions.

Wondering if public employee timesheets are open records? Try a search for time sheets, and you’ll quickly find opinions like 96-ORD-239, stating a "timesheet represents a confirmation of public funds expended for public service" and is therefore "available for public inspection under the Open Records law."

Attending a public meeting at which public officials are whispering? Type the word "whispering" in the search box (which will accommodate a search of up to 128 characters). Leading the results is 01-OMD-110, stating that "Because a quorum of the members were present, and public business was being discussed, the meeting was required to the 'open to the public at all times' and not interrupted by whispered discussions to which the public was effectively denied access." Each AG record links you to past AG records cited in the decision and records in which it is subsequently cited.

And there’s more! For details on the scope of our collections and the process that went into gathering them, check out the Introduction to the Library written by Coalition Co-Director and Librarian Scott Horn.

The first five years of the coalition have been bookended by the successful defeat through public pushback of legislative bills that would have eroded public transparency in our commonwealth. This year’s House Bill 509 is only the latest direct attack against government transparency brought by our elected officials, and legislators have already made known it will not be the last.

While legislators and our governor overcame their party differences to try to drive it through, the united public pushback from members of the public and press from all corners of the state serves as a critical reminder that transparent government unites us across all of our dividing lines.

We offer this resource as a new and powerful tool to aid all members of the public in enforcing and protecting the public’s right to know in Kentucky. We welcome and encourage feedback from the public on how we can make this tool the best possible resource. And, if you are able, please consider supporting our work with a tax-deductible donation.