Gov. Beshear vetoes bill curbing records access

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed a bill Thursday that would have shielded an array of information about judges, police and prosecutors in the state from public scrutiny.

The measure, which passed on the final day of the legislative session, had drawn a backlash from open-records advocates who said it would have weakened Kentucky’s open records law.

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The Democratic governor’s veto kills the measure this year, since the Republican-dominated legislature will not have a chance to consider an override.

In his veto message, Beshear called the legislation “overly broad” and “impractical.”

The vetoed bill would have allowed any police officer, prosecutor and some court employees — along with their relatives — to shield an array of personal information from the public.

Supporters said the changes were meant to better protect the privacy and safety of police and others in law enforcement and public safety.

The shielded information would have included identifying information about a residence, property tax records, vehicle registration and employment assignments.

The veto was applauded by open-records advocates. Michael Abate, a lawyer for the Kentucky Press Association, said in a statement Thursday that the vetoed measure was “unnecessary, unworkable and internally inconsistent. Public agencies would have been wrestling for years to come with how to implement the law.”

In his veto message, Beshear said public officials and their relatives deserve protection. The anti-doxxing bill he signed provides “appropriate protections” without “impairing the operation of public agencies and infringing on the public’s right to information about their government,” he said.

He said the vetoed bill was crafted so broadly as to make it “unworkable in practice” for public agencies because of the extent of redactions of public records related to the affected officials it would have required.

“Indeed, as a former Attorney General I could request my office number be redacted in all public records,” the governor said.

The measure he signed into law more effectively tries to protect such officials, he said. That new law will prohibit the dissemination of personally identifying information when done so in an attempt to harass, intimidate, abuse or threaten that person.

The veto issued Thursday was Beshear’s latest on an open records-related bill.

He previously vetoed a measure intended to shield state lawmakers from facing court appeals after denying requests to review legislative records. Republican lawmakers overrode that veto. The bill intends for the appeals to be heard by a panel of legislative leadership from both parties. Beshear called it a “recipe for secrecy” that “defeats the entire purpose” of the open records law.

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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 tkenny@wtvq.com. You can also follow Tom on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomKennyABC and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.