House Bill 312 dealing originally with financial institutions but amended in a House State Government Committee substitute to deal with Open Records, passed the Senate State and Local Government Committee meeting Wednesday afternoon. The vote was 7-2 but two of the “yea” votes — from Sen. Chris McDaniel and Sen. Brandon Storm — did so with some reservation about how they would vote when it came to the full Senate. Sen. Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, and Sen. Adrienne Southworth, R-Lawrenceburg, voted “no” in committee.
And consideration by the full Senate took place late Thursday afternoon. The vote was 22-11. Senator McDaniel joined the “no” votes; Senator Storm voted with the majority.
The version passed by committee and then the Senate differed from the committee substitute voted out of the House a week earlier. The changes included making a form to request open records, prepared by the Attorney General, from mandatory to optional use. The final version also allowed any news media organization to file a request for a public record. Previously, the House version would not have allowed an out of state news media group to request an open record without being affiliated with a Kentucky news media organization. In-state media were permitted to file a request in the original House Committee Substitute.
The Senate version kept in tact records dealing with the Kentucky legislature and Legislative Research Commission. That requirement was the main emphasis of General Assembly and despite numerous discussions to change, the legislature was not will to change any of that language.
The final bill allows for public records to be requested by email and requires the agency to supply the record by mail or by email, a change from the House version.
It allows gives a public agency five days to reply to a request: “Each public agency, upon any request for records made under KRS 61.870 to 61.884, shall determine within five (5) (previously three) days excepting Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays, after the receipt of any such request whether to comply with the request and shall notify in writing the person making the request, within the five (5) (previously 3) day period, of its decision.”
In her speech on the Senate floor Thursday, Senator Southworth noted she had made numerous requests for public records and knows three days response is not typical. She said her experience shows five, even six days, is when she’ll get a response to her request.
Though most but not all press associations responded to a survey on the number of days allowed, Kentucky was one of four — along with Georgia, Kansas and Missouri — that had a three-day requirement. The majority are five to seven. Mississippi recently changed its law from 14 days to seven days and others reported “up to 30 days” to respond.
Below is the version of House Bill 312 as approved by the Senate. It now heads back to the House and it’s believed the House will agree to the Senate changes and forward HB312 to the governor. It is not known if the governor will veto HB 312 and if he does, it will go back to the House and Senate to let the veto stand or vote to override the veto.
Without an “Emergency Clause” attached to the bill, that would allow for it to take effect immediately, HB 312 would become law 90 days after the Sine Die of the 2021 General Assembly. By constitution, the 30-day sessions must end by March 30.
To view the Senate discussion on HB312, click the link below. At the bottom of the screen, click Part 2 and move the time bar over to 54 minutes.
To view the Senate State and Local Government Committee, click on the link below then scroll down to Senate State and Local Government Committee, click on that and move the time bar to 42 minutes.
For the vote history in the House (it passed 71-27) and the Senate (it passed 22-11), click here House Bill 312 Vote History