Public always benefits from transparency

Published 11:04 am Wednesday, June 7, 2017

You can never have too much sunshine when it comes to state and local government.

A recent report recommends that Kentucky update its Sunshine Laws — the guidelines that create the rules handling public records and open meetings — to adapt to the 21st Century.

We support this effort whole heartedly; and also feel lawmakers should carefully consider incorporating education and training requirements into the laws to ensure that those working for public agencies or receiving public monies have a clear understanding of what is and is not public and how this information should be made available when requested.

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Clark County’s agencies do a good job of following the laws and making public records readily available to the media or anyone else seeking documents.

We certainly appreciate this — as does the public as a whole — and it is important to maintain government transparency at all costs.

Conducted by the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, the report recommended a series of improvements based on “rapid changes in the dynamics of communications and information transmission.”

“The single most confounding provision needing clarification is one intended to expand open records law to include private entities that derive at least 25 percent of the money they spend from state or local authority funds. Records relating to these public funds that are prepared, owned, used, in the possession of or retained by the otherwise private entity are public records and, unless exempt under one or more of the statutory exemptions, are accessible under the open records law,” according to our reporting partners at Kentucky Today.

The Bluegrass Institute also found that exemptions in the public records law protecting certain types of records do not have matching exclusions in the open meetings law. This means public agencies could be required to discuss otherwise-protected records in open session during public meetings.

Carefully analyzing public records, open meetings and the educational components tied to each is an important step for the state.

An open and transparent government means the public wins.