Senate Bill 162 would require training of city officials on Open Meetings/Records

Rep. Derrick Graham

Here’s a history lesson on Open Meetings/Records. Back in 2005, Rep. Derrick Graham, D-Frankfort, the same Rep. Graham who is now the Minority Party Leader in the House, came up with the idea to train public officials on the Open Meetings and Open Records Laws. He saw frequent misinterpretations and misunderstandings of the laws by public officials, including the Frankfort City school system, where he was employed as a teacher.

His idea was to create training for these public officials and he was going to push for that through legislation. He got KPA involved and we brought in then-general counsel Kim Greene to work with him on the language. His idea was to require public officials to take the time to attend. That idea didn’t sit well with the Kentucky League of Cities, perhaps still known then as the Kentucky Municipal League. They noted their mayors and other elected officials didn’t have time to attend the training. So Rep. Graham got pushback.

Not wanting to give up the effort, Representative Graham settled for a publication that would be given to every elected public official and they’d have to sign a form they had in fact received it. Now we couldn’t require them to read it, understand, but at least they had to acknowledge receiving it. Representative Graham was disappointed he could not require the training, noting that would be much more effective that handing out a booklet and expect them to read it.

But that developed and he included language that put publishing it in the hands of the Attorney General. The AG then developed and made available a booklet entitled “Your Duty Under the Law.”

The law is still on the books today and that’s why at the beginning of each year, I suggest you ask local elected officials if they’re received their copies. It has to be handed out at the beginning of the year because it specifics those newly elected officials must receive a copy. But don’t just ask if it’s been done; file an Open Records request for copies of the forms elected officials signed showing they received the publication. And notice, it applies to school superintendents and university presidents as well.

 

15.257 Requirements for distribution of explanatory materials; Open Records and Open Meet is laws; retention and management of public records

(1) The Office of the Attorney General shall, within ninety (90) days of June 20, 2005, and thereafter, within ninety (90) days of the effective date of any legislation amending the provisions of the Open Meetings Act or the Open Records Act, distribute to all county judge/executives, mayors, county attorneys, city attorneys, superintendents of public school districts, presidents of each of the state public postsecondary education institutions identified in KRS 161.220(4)(b) or 164.001(13) or (17), and attorneys of public school districts and public postsecondary education institutions throughout Kentucky written information prepared by the Office of the Attorney General that explains the procedural and substantive provisions of the Open Meetings Act, KRS 61.805 to 61.850, and the Open Records Act, KRS 61.870 to 61.884, together with the information required by KRS 171.223 to be prepared by the Department for Libraries and Archives concerning proper retention and management of public records. This distribution may be by electronic means.
(2) All superintendents of public school districts and the presidents of each of the state public postsecondary education institutions identified in KRS 161.220(4)(b) or 164.001(13) or (17) shall be responsible for designating and submitting the names and addresses of the attorneys to whom this information shall be disseminated to the Office of the Attorney General.

Senate Bill 162 would require what wasn’t accomplished in 2005

Now fast forward to the 2020 General Assembly. What Representative Graham was unable to accomplish back in 2005 comes in the form of Senate Bill 162, sponsored by Rep. Rick Girdler, R-Somerset.

The training Representative Graham wanted to require could be coming if SB 162 makes it through. It is getting late in the session. The bill has not been heard by committee so that must happen and then three legislative days later it can be voted upon by the Senate. Then the process starts all over again in the House. If the House decides to take it up, you’re looking at a minimum of six legislative days once it gets assigned to a committee. If

Create a new section of KRS Chapter 83A requiring all mayors and legislative body members in cities of the home rule class to undergo a mandatory three-hour block of instruction concerning various duties and obligations; establish criteria for training and provide for training; establish filing requirements; establish penalty for failure to comply; require any mayor or legislative body members to receive training within one year of the effective date of this Act.

https://apps.legislature.ky.gov/recorddocuments/bill/20RS/sb162/orig_bill.pdf

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