A second open government mandatory training bill has been filed in the Kentucky Senate, this one extending to both open records and open meetings but applicable to school board members only.
Sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Tichenor, SB 170 would fundamentally reconfigure local school boards. It expands on existing mandatory training requirements for board members, found at KRS 160.180(5), by adding to "annual in-service training requirements for all school board members a requirement that they receive "[o]ne hour of open meetings and open records training every other year."
It does not designate an authorized trainer or state whether the training must be conducted in person or may be conducted remotely, leaving it to the Kentucky Board of Education to "identify criteria for fulfilling this requirement."
Tichenor is co-sponsor with Sen. Adrienne Southworth's on SB 37, a much more ambitious open government training proposal that amplifies on existing mandatory open records and open meetings training requirements but is otherwise silent on open meetings training.
"The logistical challenges" created by SB 37, we noted in a January 7 post, "are daunting."
"This is due, in part, to the number of public officials and employees they propose to reach. That challenge is exacerbated by the need for well-informed, balanced training from an Attorney General who just assumed office and who inherited unsettled open records and open meetings laws from his immediate predecessor.
"Training, after all, is only as good as the trainer. [The office's] current nonmerit staff members lack broad experience, expertise, depth of knowledge, and perspective.
"Given these challenges, we remain convinced that online training using a stakeholder vetted and approved educational training module -- that includes a mechanism for verifying completion -- provides the best alternative. State government employees and officials are already familiar with this e-learning model. Its wide use confirms that the advantages of e-learning largely outweigh the disadvantages."
SB 37 has not moved since it was assigned to the Senate State and Local Government Committee on January 12. It may suffer the same fate as Southworth's 2023 mandatory open records training bill, SB 17, which never made it out of committee.
Tichenor's filed her mandatory training bill on February 2. It has not yet been assigned to a committee. The open records and open meetings training proposal is, however, likely to be the least controverted part of an otherwise highly controversial bill.
For our part, we would be minimally satisfied if the new Attorney General would fully discharge the open records and open meetings duties assigned by KRS 15.257 that were apparently abandoned by his predecessor.