Kentucky Open Records Act
- 1 Relevant legal cases
- 2 Proposed changes
- 3 Kentucky's transparency report card
- 4 Features of the law
- 4.1 Declared legal intention
- 4.2 What records are covered?
- 4.3 What agencies are covered?
- 4.4 Who may request records?
- 4.5 Must a purpose be stated?
- 4.6 How can records be used?
- 4.7 Time allowed for response
- 4.8 Fees for records
- 4.9 Role of the Attorney General
- 5 Open meetings
- 6 See also
- 7 External links
- 8 References
The Kentucky Open Records Act is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of government bodies at all levels in Kentucky. Statutes KRS 61.870 to 61.884 define the law.
The Kentucky Open Meetings Act legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted.
To learn more about how to make a public records request in this state, please see Kentucky FOIA procedures.
Relevant legal cases
Here is a list of lawsuits in Kentucky (cases are listed alphabetically; to order them by year, please click the icon tot he right of the "year" heading).
|Bowling v. Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government||2005|
|Courier-Journal v. City of Louisville||2006|
|Courier-Journal v. Kentucky High School Athletics Association||2005|
|Courier-Journal v. University of Louisville Foundation||2005|
|Kentucky Central v. Park Broadcasting||1996|
|Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government v. Lexington Herald-Leader Co.||1997|
|Skaggs v. Redford||1992|
|Zink v. Commonwealth of Kentucky, Department of Workers' Claims, Labor Cabinet||1994|
We do not have any legislation for Kentucky in 2011.
We do not have any legislation for Kentucky in 2010.
Senator John Schickel proposed Senate Bill 30, which would exempt the recordings of calls to 911 from public access. The bill allowed for transcripts of the calls to be made public, but not the actual audio. Opponents of the bill were calling it "a waste of time, your tax dollars and is a dangerous move toward limiting free speech and open records/sunshine laws" and "a poorly thought out solution to a mostly non-existent problem."
SB 30 had been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee and was heading to the floor for a vote as of early February 2009.
Senate Bill 188 would create a General Assembly Accountability and Review Division to conduct investigations, audits and reviews and otherwise monitor the activities of public agencies. The agency would be exempt from KORA. The Kentucky Press Association was opposing the exemptions provisions in the bill.
Kentucky's transparency report card
A 2007 study, Graded state responsiveness to FOI requests, conducted by BGA and the NFOIC, gave Kentucky 47 points out of a possible 100, a letter grade of "F" and a ranking of 26 out of the 50 states.
Features of the law
- Compare States: Sunshine variations
- Click on the heading to compare your state's law to other state's transparency laws.
Declared legal intention
The declaration of intent states, "The General Assembly finds and declares that the basic policy of KRS 61.870 to 61.884 is that free and open examination of public records is in the public interest and the exceptions provided for by KRS 61.878 or otherwise provided by law shall be strictly construed, even though such examination may cause inconvenience or embarrassment to public officials of others."
What records are covered?
- See also: Defining public records
The definition of public record in Kentucky law is expansive, including "all books, papers, maps, photographs, cards, tapes, discs, diskettes, recordings, software, or other documentation regardless of physical form or characteristics, which are prepared, owned, used, in the possession of or retained by a public agency."
A number of exemptions are outlined in Kentucky ORA 61.878 that must be noted. Exemptions include:
- "Public records containing information of a personal nature where the public disclosure thereof would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy"
- Scientific research
- Commercial records with regard to grants, loans, banking, future business propositions or that would create an unfair competitive advantage
- Police investigations that would jeopardize informants or undercover officers
- "Preliminary drafts, notes, correspondence with private individuals, other than correspondence which is intended to give notice of final action of a public agency" and "Preliminary recommendations, and preliminary memoranda in which opinions are expressed or policies formulated or recommended"
- Records of donations where the donor has requested anonymity
- Records that would jeopardize security with regard to infrastructure or individuals
- See also: Deliberative process exemption
What agencies are covered?
- See also: Defining public body
The definition of agencies in the Kentucky ORA includes all government bodies at both state and local levels, as well as all bodies who receive 25% of their funds from the public body or a majority of their governing body is appointed by other government agencies.
It is also interesting to note that if the department to which the records are requested does not possess the records, they are obligated to notify the person requesting of the department that does possess the records.
- See also: Legislatures and transparency
The Kentucky Open Records Act includes the state legislature within its definition of public body under Kentucky ORA 61.870.1.
Privatized governmental agencies
The Kentucky Open Records Act applies to all private entities that receive public funding and those private entities that were created and are controlled by a public entity.
- See also: Universities and open records
The definition of public body presumably includes public universities within the state. However, testing and exam material and scientific research are explicitly exempted under Kentucky ORA 61.878.
Who may request records?
Must a purpose be stated?
- See also: States requiring a statement of purpose
The act specifically designates that specific commercial purposes must be stated at the outset of a records request.
Further, if the department feels that records place an unreasonable burden on government or are deemed to be intended to merely disrupt the functions of government then the request may be refused.
How can records be used?
- See also: Record use restrictions
The use of records which were declared for a commercial purpose are strictly limited to only that purpose for which they were declared. Any records without the declaration of a commercial purpose cannot be used for a commercial purpose.
Time allowed for response
- See also: Request response times by state
Kentucky law sets a three day limit on records requests but allows for extensions if the extension is justified in writing to the person requesting the records.
Fees for records
- See also: How much do public records cost?
For non-commercial requests the department may charge a fee for the cost of the material and equipment involved with duplication but may not charge for the staff time needed for duplication.
- See also: Sunshine laws and search fees
Only copies requested for commercial purpose allow additional fees to be charged for the staff time consumed by both search and duplication.
Role of the Attorney General
- See also: Role of the Attorney General
If an individual's request for access to public records in the possession of a state governmental agency is denied, in spite of proper compliance with request procedures detailed under the state's open records law, the requester may ask the state's Attorney General to review the decision after first providing the Attorney General's Office " a copy of the written request and a copy of the written response denying inspection." Within 20 days, the state Attorney General will issue a written decision as to whether or not the state governmental agency did indeed violate the provisions of the state's open records law. The state Attorney General is also authorized to review requests in which the requester feels as though the intent of the open records act is "being subverted by an agency short of denial of inspection, including but not limited to the imposition of excessive fees or the misdirection of the applicant."
Should either party feel as though the Attorney General's verdict is unsatisfactory, one of the parties may file an appeal with the local Circuit Court within 30 days of the decision being issued. If, however, an appeal is "not filed within the thirty (30) day time limit, the Attorney General's decision shall have the force and effect of law."
The Kentucky Revised Statutes define the purpose for open meetings law as: "the formation of public policy is public business and shall not be conducted in secret and the exceptions provided for by ... law shall be strictly construed."
- Kentucky FOIA procedures
- Kentucky transparency advocates
- Kentucky transparency legislation
- Private agency, public dollars-Kentucky
- Kentucky Open Meetings Act
- Kentucky Statutes, Chapter 61 see section 870 and on for open records laws
- Open Government Guide to Kentucky
- FreedomKentucky.org Spending Database - A collection of sortable check registers and budgets from cities, school districts, and state agencies collected through the Kentucky Open Records Act.
- Kentucky Open Records Act from Freedom Kentucky
- List of opinions on open meetings and open records issues by the Kentucky attorney general (dead link), dating back to 1993.
- Past articles on Kentucky
- Text of SB 30
- Lawmaker pushes to keep 911 calls off the airwaves, Kentucky.com, January 25, 2009
- the 'Ville Voice, "From Dept of Wasting Your Time & Money," January 26, 2009
- Keep public records open, Kentucky.com, February 18, 2009
- Ky. bill advances to keep 911 calls off airwaves, Lexington Herald-Leader, February 5, 2009
- Text of SB188
- Powerful watchdog agency proposed, Courier-Journal, February 21, 2009
- Press group opposes closing records of legislative probes, Courier-Journal, February 24, 2009
- 2008 BGA-Alper Integrity Index
- States Failing FOI Responsiveness, National Freedom of Information Coalition, October 2007
- Freedom of Information in the USA, 2002
- Kentucky Revised Statutes Chapter 61, Section .871
- Kentucky ORA 61.870.2
- Kentucky ORA 61.878.1.a
- Kentucky ORA 61.870.1
- Kentucky ORA 61-872.4
- Kentucky Revised Statutes, 61.872
- Kentucky ORA 61.874
- Kentucky Revised Statutes 61.880 (dead link)
- Kentucky Revised Statutes Chapter 61, Section .800
State of Kentucky
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