3 bills on Open Records include media exemption

Friday morning update:¬†Both the autopsy and accident reports bills have passed the House unanimously — 94- 0 on the autopsy report; 99-0 on the accident reports.

Autopsy reports. Accident reports. Police worn body cameras.

Those are just three of the many pieces of legislation KPA is working on and watching this 2017 30-day short session. While we’ve worked with the groups and organizations behind the legislation, we’re watching those three to make sure language that exempts to media from provisions stays in through the end.

Much of the interest behind these bills is to keep the general public from requesting the records. Public agencies are inundated with requests from non-media types — think attorneys and ambulance chasers, supposed freelance photographs and just those being nosy — wanting copies of the records for whatever the reason.

In all three cases, we were told the media is not the problem so that opened the door for us to ask them to include some language that would exempt the media, or rather ensure that the media will have access to the reports.

Accident reports in possession of the Kentucky State Police, for instance, are not subject to open records and the state police can use that as a reason for denying a request. But those behind the legislation have supported allowing the reports to be released to the news media while continuing to deny the reports to others.

We’ll continue monitoring the legislation to make sure language in the bills that would allow the media to have access to the reports remains until both chambers sign and the bills are sent to the governor. It’s possible that if any get hung up in the process — it is a short session and there’s not a lot of time left — those will be discussed during the interim and brought back in the 2018 session.

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