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Reporters Committee urges Kentucky governor to veto HB 312

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  1. Freedom of Information

Update: On March 23, 2021, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed HB 312, calling the legislation”a recipe for secrecy” that “does not live up to our values of a transparent government.” A week later, however, Kentucky lawmakers voted to override the governor’s veto.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press is urging Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear to veto legislation that would make it more difficult for members of the press and the public to obtain certain government records in the state.

In a March 19 letter to the governor, the Reporters Committee notes that portions of HB 312 appear designed to obstruct the public from accessing records of Kentucky’s Legislative Research Commission, the administrative and research arm of the General Assembly.

“Any attempt to legislatively hamper public access to these records is contrary to the public interest,” the letter states.

The Reporters Committee’s letter highlights a 2018 investigation by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, which used public records to report on the extent of sexual harassment within state government.

“It is essential that members of the news media and Kentuckians continue to have access to records of all government bodies to ensure the public is informed about such issues,” the letter states.