Thursday was perhaps the most active day of the first 55 days of the 2018 General Assembly. As far as KPA is concerned. Most of the day was spent working the hallways on an amendment filed Wednesday to HB302, language that is below and remains pretty clear as to its intent. It was a “disaster” in the words of Jon Fleischaker. And it would have turned Open Records on its head.
Stories and editorials began coming from all points as word of the language spread and what it would do to openness in Kentucky. When the Senate started its afternoon session, five Democrats had filed paperwork to pull HB302, the vehicle for the amended language, from the Consent Calendar and place in the Regular Orders of the Day. That would mean the legislation would have to be discussed and debated on the floor. But toward the end of the Thursday session, President Robert Stivers left his place at the front of the chamber, went to his assign seat in the chamber and rose to be recognized.
He told Sen. Jimmy Higdon that he wanted to address the body and perhaps the press and then began. You can catch his speech as well as one from Sen. Damon Thayer on the link at the bottom of this.
Here’s the language that was inserted into HB302. Read for yourself. The bold, Italic language is what was added. Unfortunately it reads “any electronic communications…” and any means any including texts, emails, calls related to the public’s business. It would have been easy to specify personal or professional communications, or something similar to that, and nary a word would have been said.
(2) “Public record” means all books, papers, maps, photographs, cards, tapes, discs, 6 diskettes, recordings, software, or other documentation regardless of physical form 7 or characteristics, which are prepared, owned, used, in the possession of or retained 8 by a public agency. “Public record” shall not include any records owned or 9 maintained by or for a body referred to in subsection (1)(h) of this section that are 10 not related to functions, activities, programs, or operations funded by state or local 11 authority. “Public record” shall not include any electronic communications, including without limitation, calls, text messages, or electronic mail contained in, sent, or received using a private cell phone or other private electronic device that is paid for with private funds or contained in, sent, or received using a nongovernment electronic mail account;
To view the floor speeches of Senate President Robert Stivers and Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, open the link below and then move the time bar at the bottom to about 36:45 (36 minutes, 45 seconds).