We’re not even finished with the short 2017 Legislative Session but 2018 is starting to take shape.
We have some promises from groups we’ve fought or worked with on legislation this and even previous sessions that they will bring legislation to 2018.
We have promises, more nearly, “threats,” from legislators that they will be bringing legislation in 2018 that we’ve fought, fought hard and pretty much been victorious the last 13 sessions. (Yes, 13 sessions. We started fighting against public notices on government websites in 2005. And not a session goes by that it’s not discussed or hasn’t been the subject of some legislation.)
Here’s what we know will be waiting for us:
• POLICE-WORN BODY CAMS. We worked this session with the Kentucky League of Cities on access to the videos of police-worn body cams. We were ready to join KLC in going forward with that legislation this session but there were still a few holdouts on the law enforcement side. Our position is established and I believe KLC believes it’s a realistic approach. So we won’t be changing on what we want or need in the legislation and will wait for the few holdouts to join with us.
• SCHOOL DISTRICT FINANCIAL STATEMENTS. Had a text over the weekend that it’s coming back in some form and we need to be prepared. That didn’t scare me because in giving this a lot of thought, I believe there are some concessions/compromises we can put forth that will ease the financial burden on the schools. I have seen a lot of the financial statements as published last August/September and many of them published extra things that weren’t required to be or actually published a lot more information than the law requires. Can things actually be changed to make it better?
The current law was put into play in 1990. Think KERA. the requirement was put in as a part of KERA to make sure there was a sufficient reporting mechanism following the investment the legislature made in our schools. I’ll be discussing with the KPA board some ideas on concessions/compromises/considerations and if the Board approves, we’ll move forward then to start working with legislators. We have to be proactive on this.
Just as we were back in 2005. In September of that year, I had several meetings with the Kentucky League of Cities, Kentucky Association of Counties and Kentucky Magistrates and Commissioners Association. We sat frequently to take about changes in the law. Notice the Kentucky School Boards Association is absent from that list. They were invited but declined. So with that attitude, we did not consider any changes whatsoever for schools. We weren’t going to make changes with them if they had no interest.
• ELECTION BALLOT. Again three pieces of legislation had language this year that would have allowed at least the Jefferson County Clerk change what it is required to publish before any election. We’ve had this legislation three straight sessions and have worked to keep it from being approved three times. That clerk’s office has already promised to return in 2018 pushing its agenda again. I think there will be some discussions between now and then that could well lead to concessions between both sides.
• PUBLIC NOTICE ADVERTISING. If we’ve faced this every session since 2005, there’s no reason to think it won’t return in 2018. In fact, we’ve been promised it would, perhaps to the most significant level ever. The LRC’s Public Notice Study was released late last Fall and the legislature did not have time to develop any language to address the recommendations or issues of that study. There will be plenty of time between now and January so you can expect perhaps several legislators examining that study and developing legislation that could change the way public notices are published now.
• VICTIM PRIVACY. This was legislation that caught us off guard because we had heard nothing like it was being considered. In February, Sen. Julie Raque Adams filed Senate Bill 234, an effort coordinated by the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Program. After seeing quotes by KPA attorney Jon Flesichaker on there being no need for the legislation, Senator Raque Adams did not move it but KASAP has asked to discuss its concerns with KPA during the interim. Here’s a synopsis of the bill as stated on the Legislative Research Commission’s website:
SB 234 – AN ACT relating to victim privacy.
Amend KRS 17.150 to define “personally identifiable information” and “victim”; provide that records with a victim’s personally identifiable information must be redacted before being accessed for public inspection; amend KRS 61.878 to state that portions of records containing a victim’s personally identifiable information are excluded from the open records Act, except upon a court order; amend KRS 61.884 to state that a public record containing a victim’s personally identifiable information must be redacted prior to being accessed by the public.