September 4, 2018

Recent Amendments to the Open Meetings and Open Records Acts

Recently, the Kentucky Office of Attorney General sent out a communication notifying Mayors and City Attorneys of legislation that amends the Open Meetings and Open Records Acts. The information contained the following summaries:

On April 26, 2018, HB 592, amending the Open Meetings Act, KRS 61.800 to 61.850, took effect.  The legislation amended KRS 61.826 to allow public agencies to conduct any meeting through video teleconference.  Prior to the amendment, closed sessions of public meetings could not be conducted through video teleconference.  The legislation also amended KRS 61.826 to require a public agency to precisely identify a primary location of a video teleconference meeting where all members can be seen and heard, and the public may attend in accordance with KRS 61.840.  Prior to the amendment, the statute required the notice to identify all video teleconference locations as well as which, if any, location was primary.

On July 14, 2018, HB 302, amending the Open Records Act, KRS 61.870 to 61.884, became effective.  That legislation amended KRS 61.810 to include selection committees established under KRS Chapters 45A and 56 as exceptions to the open meeting requirements until the award of the contract or cancellation of the procurement.  HB 302 also amended KRS 61.878 to exclude “communications of a purely personal nature unrelated to any governmental function” as a public record.  The legislation also amended KRS 61.878 to include information identifying members of selection committees and records of the procurement processes established under KRS Chapters 45A and 56 as exceptions to the open record requirements.  It also amended KRS 56.8169 to clarify that KRS 61.810 and 61.878 apply to the selection process for built-to-suit contracts.

These legislative changes trigger a duty for Mayors to distribute publications to each official and member of every legislative body, board, commission, authority or committee. This includes special districts “located within their jurisdiction” regardless of whether it is a joint board, i.e. tourism commission or code enforcement board. In the case of a joint board, the Mayor must distribute the publications to those board members appointed by the city. “Your Duty Under the Law” and “Managing Government Records” are the publications that Mayors must distribute. The Mayor may also assign a designee with that task, however the duty to distribute the publications ultimately falls to the Mayor. Within 60 days of the receipt of the information from the Attorney General, the Mayor must distribute the publications.

But wait, there is more. With elections closing in, it is important to remember that Mayors are also saddled with the duty to distribute these publications to newly elected officials and newly appointed board or commission members. Again, the magic number is 60. Within 60 days of when the term of office begins (January 1 for newly elected officials and the next meeting for new appointees) the Mayor must distribute the publications.

Attached are the pdf versions of the updated publications.

Even though the Managing Government Records document has not been updated since August 2015, the statute does not differentiate between that and the newly minted Your Duty Under the Law. If either is amended, both must be distributed by the Mayor.