We’re alarmed by a recent tweet by the Kentucky Senate Republicans where they touted the Senate “moving forward with its duties” and continuing to meet despite postponing the legislative session over the last few days.
We reached out to Amye Bensenhaver, former Assistant Attorney General and co-founder of the Kentucky Open Government Coalition, to see if these meetings violate the state’s open meetings law.
Here is Besenhaver’s response:
Despite BIPPS’ best efforts to make the GA comply with the open meetings law, the members continue to ignore it.
The budget process has always been particularly secretive and the media and public give lawmakers a pass. This will be especially true during the world health crisis.
The offense here is exacerbated by the fact that they misled the public into believing that the session was suspended until tomorrow. It’s like “anti-notice” when the primary purpose of the Open Meetings Act is to “maximize notice of public agency meetings and action.”
I don’t know where they are conducting business and if a quorum of Senate members/committee members is in attendance, but this is definitely problematic. If a local agency misled the public in this way, there’s a good chance they would be successfully challenged in an open meetings appeal.
We understand the General Assembly’s decision to protect its members’ health by postponing the legislative session. However, postponing session means they should not be meeting. We hope that the Kentucky Senate Republicans are not using a public health crisis to keep the public in the dark about decisions still being made by lawmakers behind closed doors.