In waning hours of March 26, General Assembly makes temporary changes to Open Meetings/Records laws

Changes are in place only during ‘pendency’ of a state emergency

This went out by email to all editors this morning but it’s certainly important enough to use in On Second Thought.

In the waning hours of yesterday’s General Assembly session, the legislature approved unanimously and sent to the governor an amended Senate Bill 150. It deals with the COVID-19 situation and part of the amended bill deals specifically with Open Meetings and Open Records.

PLEASE NOTE — the language in 8 (a) (b) and (c) makes these OM/OR changes effective only during the state of emergency, the current COVID-19 situation.
I have attached the bill as approved and you will want to read: Starting on page 6, line 24 and continuing into page 9, line 4.
You will note that public agencies are given 10 days to respond to Open Records requests instead of the normal three days. That’s in 8(a).
There are also specifics on public agencies conducting meetings by audio or video teleconferencing. That’s in 8(b).
8(c) deals with court-ordered counseling or educational sessions and how those can be held by audio or video teleconferencing.
9(a) at the bottom of page 7, line 23, suspends deadlines involving hearings by any legislative body dealing with land use, planning or zoning. And I mention continuing through line 4 on page 9 because part of that mentions video teleconferencing but may not be of interest to your news coverage.

Senate Bill 150 includes an EMERGENCY CLAUSE with it, meaning that as soon as it is signed by Gov. Andy Beshear it becomes law, But again, this is temporary and in effect only while the State of Emergency exists. When he declares the public health emergency is over, we revert to existing laws on Open Meetings and Open Records.

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