Media organizations oppose open-records restrictions


FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A coalition of media organizations including The Associated Press is opposing a Kentucky bill that they argue would weaken the state’s open records law.

The bill imposes a residency requirement on open records requests and gives lawmakers the ability to deny requests without the option of appeal.

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While the Kentucky Press Association has announced that it does not oppose the bill, about a dozen other groups and individuals co-signed a letter from the Kentucky Open Government Coalition warning that the legislation would “create unneeded and unwanted impediments to public access” and would not ease the burden on public agencies. The letter went to Senate leaders on Monday and the AP joined in the objection on Tuesday.

Lawmakers in the Kentucky House voted 71-27 last Friday to advance the bill. It now heads to the Senate for a committee hearing. The open-records law changes were added as a last-minute amendment to a bill dealing with financial institutions.

If passed, only Kentucky residents, businesses and news organizations would be able to file requests. The measure also permits public officials to respond to requests within five days instead of three. The Office of the Attorney General would also be tasked with creating a standard request form for public agencies to use.

Another part of the bill would nullify a 2019 Kentucky Supreme Court ruling allowing the Franklin Circuit Court to hear appeals of requests that have been denied by the Legislative Research Commission.

Instead, appeals would be heard by a panel of legislative leadership from both parties, and there would be no option for an appeal or judicial review, essentially giving the legislature the last word.

In defending the bill during floor debate, two Republican House members falsely claimed the current open-records law allows the public to have access to emails between lawmakers and their constituents.

Democratic Rep. Matti Minter rebuffed those concerns when explaining her opposition to the bill.

“I don’t think we need to be fearmongering on the floor that people’s personal information is going to get compromised,” she said. “There are so many stories that our free press that we cherish in this country will not be able to tell if this law is enacted.”

Republican lawmakers hold veto-proof supermajorities in both chambers. Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s office did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment.

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at You can also follow Tom on Facebook and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.