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WPSD 6 reports on governors press conference

The Kentucky Open Government Coalition is asking Governor Beshear to release records that will help the public understand his office's participation in drafting and supporting House Bill 509 in this year's legislative session.

On at least two separate occasions, the Governor has publicly supported HB 509, a bill with some good provisions that are severely outweighed by the loopholes it would create. We share all of the concerns outlined by Kentucky Press Association's recent Op-Ed, namely that the bill as written tacitly permits public officials to do public business on private phones, social media, and other third party services without accountability to the public. We are also deeply troubled by the lack of serious debate in the legislature on the transparency implications of this bill.

We delivered this message to the governor's office this morning:

To the Office of Governor Beshear:

We write to you today to kindly request copies of public records under the Kentucky Open Records Act. Specifically, we seek copies of records showing work your staff has done in drafting and supporting this year’s House Bill 509, which would make significant changes to the Open Records Act. Please see the attached Addendum for the specifics of documents requested.

In the Team Kentucky Update dated March 14, 2024, Governor Beshear responded to a reporter question about the Office’s participation in drafting House Bill 509, saying in part:

“We've worked on parts of House Bill 509… I believe that this will allow searches outside of the individual in question from the organization, from the cabinet, from the board and through their general counsel that will provide more records, not less, so that is a portion that we worked on.”

The public has a right to understand how this bill has been drafted; where the General Assembly has isolated itself from meaningful public review, we must turn to your office to better understand this process and your office’s participation in it. 

Were it to become law, HB 509 would eliminate public access to public records on private cell phones, social media, and any public records sent by third parties to public officials’ private email addresses. The governor has correctly noted that public agencies are limited to requesting screenshots or forwards from private devices of their employees; this protects public employees from intrusive searches while setting a formal requirement that those records be shared. HB 509 would unnecessarily eliminate this requirement to the detriment of transparency.

This request is made on behalf of the Kentucky Open Government Coalition, a 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting our state’s sunshine laws, with residency established under KRS 61.870(10)(b) and (f). We look forward to your response by Monday, April 15, 2024.



/s/ Scott Horn
Scott Horn, Co-Director
Kentucky Open Government Coalition

/s/ Amye Bensenhaver
Amye Bensenhaver, Co-Director
Kentucky Open Government Coalition

/s/ Jennifer P. Brown
Jennifer P. Brown, Co-Director
Kentucky Open Government Coalition