Legal Resources/1st Amendment

Kentucky Open Meeting Law

OPEN MEETINGS LAW/KENTUCKY
Current Law as of July, 2012

KRS § 61.800
61.800 Legislative statement of policy

The General Assembly finds and declares that the basic policy of KRS 61.805 to 61.850 is that the formation of public policy is public business and shall not be conducted in secret and the exceptions provided for by KRS 61.810 or otherwise provided for by law shall be strictly construed.

KRS § 61.805
61.805 Definitions for KRS 61.805 to 61.850

As used in KRS 61.805 to 61.850, unless the context otherwise requires:
(1) “Meeting” means all gatherings of every kind, including video teleconferences, regardless of where the meeting is held, and whether regular or special and informational or casual gatherings held in anticipation of or in conjunction with a regular or special meeting;
(2) “Public agency” means:
(a) Every state or local government board, commission, and authority;
(b) Every state or local legislative board, commission, and committee;
(c) Every county and city governing body, council, school district board, special district board, and municipal corporation;
(d) Every state or local government agency, including the policy-making board of an institution of education, created by or pursuant to state or local statute, executive order, ordinance, resolution, or other legislative act;
(e) Any body created by or pursuant to state or local statute, executive order, ordinance, resolution, or other legislative act in the legislative or executive branch of government;
(f) Any entity when the majority of its governing body is appointed by a “public agency” as defined in paragraph (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), (g), or (h) of this subsection, a member or employee of a “public agency,” a state or local officer, or any combination thereof;
(g) Any board, commission, committee, subcommittee, ad hoc committee, advisory committee, council, or agency, except for a committee of a hospital medical staff or a committee formed for the purpose of evaluating the qualifications of public agency employees, established, created, and controlled by a “public agency” as defined in paragraph (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), (f), or (h) of this subsection; and
(h) Any interagency body of two (2) or more public agencies where each “public agency” is defined in

 

KRS § 61.810
61.810 Exceptions to open meetings

(1) All meetings of a quorum of the members of any public agency at which any public business is discussed or at which any action is taken by the agency, shall be public meetings, open to the public at all times, except for the following:
(a) Deliberations for decisions of the Kentucky Parole Board;
(b) Deliberations on the future acquisition or sale of real property by a public agency, but only when publicity would be likely to affect the value of a specific piece of property to be acquired for public use or sold by a public agency;
(c) Discussions of proposed or pending litigation against or on behalf of the public agency;
(d) Grand and petit jury sessions;
(e) Collective bargaining negotiations between public employers and their employees or their representatives;
(f) Discussions or hearings which might lead to the appointment, discipline, or dismissal of an individual employee, member, or student without restricting that employee's, member's, or student's right to a public hearing if requested. This exception shall not be interpreted to permit discussion of general personnel matters in secret;
(g) Discussions between a public agency and a representative of a business entity and discussions concerning a specific proposal, if open discussions would jeopardize the siting, retention, expansion, or upgrading of the business;
(h) State and local cabinet meetings and executive cabinet meetings;
(i) Committees of the General Assembly other than standing committees;
(j) Deliberations of judicial or quasi-judicial bodies regarding individual adjudications or appointments, at which neither the person involved, his representatives, nor any other individual not a member of the agency's governing body or staff is present, but not including any meetings of planning commissions, zoning commissions, or boards of adjustment;
(k) Meetings which federal or state law specifically require to be conducted in privacy;
(l) Meetings which the Constitution provides shall be held in secret; and
(m) That portion of a meeting devoted to a discussion of a specific public record exempted from disclosure under KRS 61.878(1)(m). However, that portion of any public agency meeting shall not be closed to a member of the Kentucky General Assembly.
(2) Any series of less than quorum meetings, where the members attending one (1) or more of the meetings collectively constitute at least a quorum of the members of the public agency and where the meetings are held for the purpose of avoiding the requirements of subsection (1) of this section, shall be subject to the requirements of subsection (1) of this section. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prohibit discussions between individual members where the purpose of the discussions is to educate the members on specific issues.

Legislative Research Commission Note (3-16-05): The Office of the Kentucky Attorney General requested that amendments in 2005 Ky. Acts ch. 93, sec. 1, to the arrangement of the paragraphs of subsection (1) of this section be changed. The change was requested “in the interest of preventing confusion to the public and public agencies” and was made by the Statute Reviser under the authority o

KRS § 61.815
61.815 Requirements for conducting closed sessions

(1) Except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, the following requirements shall be met as a condition for conducting closed sessions authorized by KRS 61.810:
(a) Notice shall be given in regular open meeting of the general nature of the business to be discussed in closed session, the reason for the closed session, and the specific provision of KRS 61.810 authorizing the closed session;
(b) Closed sessions may be held only after a motion is made and carried by a majority vote in open, public session;
(c) No final action may be taken at a closed session; and
(d) No matters may be discussed at a closed session other than those publicly announced prior to convening the closed session.
(2) Public agencies and activities of public agencies identified in paragraphs (a), (c), (d), (e), (f), but only so far as (f) relates to students, (g), (h), (i), (j), (k), (l), and (m) of subsection (1) of KRS 61.810 shall be excluded from the requirements of subsection (1) of this section.

KRS § 61.820
61.820 Schedule of regular meetings to be made available

All meetings of all public agencies of this state, and any committees or subcommittees thereof, shall be held at specified times and places which are convenient to the public, and all public agencies shall provide for a schedule of regular meetings by ordinance, order, resolution, bylaws, or by whatever other means may be required for the conduct of business of that public agency. The schedule of regular meetings shall be made available to the public.

 

KRS § 61.823
61.823 Special meetings; emergency meetings

(1) Except as provided in subsection (5) of this section, special meetings shall be held in accordance with the provisions of subsections (2), (3), and (4) of this section.
(2) The presiding officer or a majority of the members of the public agency may call a special meeting.
(3) The public agency shall provide written notice of the special meeting. The notice shall consist of the date, time, and place of the special meeting and the agenda. Discussions and action at the meeting shall be limited to items listed on the agenda in the notice.
(4) (a) As soon as possible, written notice shall be delivered personally, transmitted by facsimile machine, or mailed to every member of the public agency as well as each media organization which has filed a written request, including a mailing address, to receive notice of special meetings. The notice shall be calculated so that it shall be received at least twenty-four (24) hours before the special meeting. The public agency may periodically, but no more often than once in a calendar year, inform media organizations that they will have to submit a new written request or no longer receive written notice of special meetings until a new written request is filed.
(b) A public agency may satisfy the requirements of paragraph (a) of this subsection by transmitting the written notice by electronic mail to public agency members and media organizations that have filed a written request with the public agency indicating their preference to receive electronic mail notification in lieu of notice by personal delivery, facsimile machine, or mail. The written request shall include the electronic mail address or addresses of the agency member or media organization.
(c) As soon as possible, written notice shall also be posted in a conspicuous place in the building where the special meeting will take place and in a conspicuous place in the building which houses the headquarters of the agency. The notice shall be calculated so that it shall be posted at least twenty-four (24) hours before the special meeting.
(5) In the case of an emergency which prevents compliance with subsections (3) and (4) of this section, this subsection shall govern a public agency's conduct of a special meeting. The special meeting shall be called pursuant to subsection (2) of this section. The public agency shall make a reasonable effort, under emergency circumstances, to notify the members of the agency, media organizations which have filed a written request pursuant to subsection (4)(a) of this section, and the public of the emergency meeting. At the beginning of the emergency meeting, the person chairing the meeting shall briefly describe for the record the emergency circumstances preventing compliance with subsections (3) and (4) of this section. These comments shall appear in the minutes. Discussions and action at the emergency meeting shall be limited to the emergency for which the meeting is called.

KRS § 61.826
61.826 Video teleconferencing of meetings

(1) A public agency may conduct any meeting, other than a closed session, through video teleconference.
(2) Notice of a video teleconference shall comply with the requirements of KRS 61.820 or 61.823 as appropriate. In addition, the notice of a video teleconference shall:
(a) Clearly state that the meeting will be a video teleconference; and
(b) Precisely identify the video teleconference locations as well as which, if any, location is primary.
(3) The same procedures with regard to participation, distribution of materials, and other matters shall apply in all video teleconference locations.
(4) Any interruption in the video or audio broadcast of a video teleconference at any location shall result in the suspension of the video teleconference until the broadcast is restored.

KRS § 61.835
61.835 Minutes to be recorded; open to public

The minutes of action taken at every meeting of any such public agency, setting forth an accurate record of votes and actions at such meetings, shall be promptly recorded and such records shall be open to public inspection at reasonable times no later than immediately following the next meeting of the body.

KRS § 61.840
61.840 Conditions for attendance

No condition other than those required for the maintenance of order shall apply to the attendance of any member of the public at any meeting of a public agency. No person may be required to identify himself in order to attend any such meeting. All agencies shall provide meeting room conditions which insofar as is feasible allow effective public observation of the public meetings. All agencies shall permit news media coverage, including but not limited to recording and broadcasting.

KRS § 61.846
61.846 Enforcement by administrative procedure; appeal

(1) If a person enforces KRS 61.805 to 61.850 pursuant to this section, he shall begin enforcement under this subsection before proceeding to enforcement under subsection (2) of this section. The person shall submit a written complaint to the presiding officer of the public agency suspected of the violation of KRS 61.805 to 61.850. The complaint shall state the circumstances which constitute an alleged violation of KRS 61.805 to 61.850 and shall state what the public agency should do to remedy the alleged violation. The public agency shall determine within three (3) days, excepting Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays, after the receipt of the complaint whether to remedy the alleged violation pursuant to the complaint and shall notify in writing the person making the complaint, within the three (3) day period, of its decision. If the public agency makes efforts to remedy the alleged violation pursuant to the complaint, efforts to remedy the alleged violation shall not be admissible as evidence of wrongdoing in an administrative or judicial proceeding. An agency's response denying, in whole or in part, the complaint's requirements for remedying the alleged violation shall include a statement of the specific statute or statutes supporting the public agency's denial and a brief explanation of how the statute or statutes apply. The response shall be issued by the presiding officer, or under his authority, and shall constitute final agency action.
(2) If a complaining party wishes the Attorney General to review a public agency's denial, the complaining party shall forward to the Attorney General a copy of the written complaint and a copy of the written denial within sixty (60) days from receipt by that party of the written denial. If the public agency refuses to provide a written denial, a complaining party shall provide a copy of the written complaint within sixty (60) days from the date the written complaint was submitted to the presiding officer of the public agency. The Attorney General shall review the complaint and denial and issue within ten (10) days, excepting Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays, a written decision which states whether the agency violated the provisions of KRS 61.805 to 61.850. In arriving at the decision, the Attorney General may request additional documentation from the agency. On the day that the Attorney General renders his decision, he shall mail a copy to the agency and a copy to the person who filed the complaint.
(3) (a) If a public agency agrees to remedy an alleged violation pursuant to subsection (1) of this section, and the person who submitted the written complaint pursuant to subsection (1) of this section believes that the agency's efforts in this regard are inadequate, the person may complain to the Attorney General.
(b) The person shall provide to the Attorney General:
1. The complaint submitted to the public agency;
2. The public agency's response; and
3. A written statement of how the public agency has failed to remedy the alleged violation.
(c) The adjudicatory process set forth in subsection (2) of this section shall govern as if the public agency had denied the original complaint.
(4) (a) A party shall have thirty (30) days from the day that the Attorney General renders his decision to appeal the decision. An appeal within the thirty (30) day time limit shall be treated as if it were an action brought under KRS 61.848.
(b) If an appeal is not filed within the thirty (30) day time limit, the Attorney General's decision, as to whether the agency violated the provisions of KRS 61.805 to 61.850, shall have the force and effect of law and shall be enforceable in the Circuit Court of the county where the public agency has its principal place of business or where the alleged violation occurred.
(5) A public agency shall notify the Attorney General of any actions filed against that agency in Circuit Court regarding enforcement of KRS 61.805 to 61.850.

 

KRS § 61.848
61.848 Enforcement by judicial action; de novo determination in appeal of Attorney General's decision; voidability of action not substantially complying; awards in willful violation actions

(1) The Circuit Court of the county where the public agency has its principal place of business or where the alleged violation occurred shall have jurisdiction to enforce the provisions of KRS 61.805 to 61.850, as they pertain to that public agency, by injunction or other appropriate order on application of any person.
(2) A person alleging a violation of the provisions of KRS 61.805 to 61.850 shall not have to exhaust his remedies under KRS 61.846 before filing suit in a Circuit Court. However, he shall file suit within sixty (60) days from his receipt of the written denial referred to in subsections (1) and (2) of KRS 61.846 or, if the public agency refuses to provide a written denial, within sixty (60) days from the date the written complaint was submitted to the presiding officer of the public agency.
(3) In an appeal of an Attorney General's decision, where the appeal is properly filed pursuant to subsection (4)(a) of KRS 61.846, the court shall determine the matter de novo.
(4) Except as otherwise provided by law or rule of court, proceedings arising under this section take precedence on the docket over all other causes and shall be assigned for hearing and trial at the earliest practicable date.
(5) Any rule, resolution, regulation, ordinance, or other formal action of a public agency without substantial compliance with the requirements of KRS 61.810, 61.815, 61.820, and KRS 61.823 shall be voidable by a court of competent jurisdiction.
(6) Any person who prevails against any agency in any action in the courts regarding a violation of KRS 61.805 to 61.850, where the violation is found to be willful, may be awarded costs, including reasonable attorneys' fees, incurred in connection with the legal action. In addition, it shall be within the discretion of the court to award the person an amount not to exceed one hundred dollars ($100) for each instance in which the court finds a violation. Attorneys' fees, costs, and awards under this subsection shall be paid by the agency responsible for the violation.

KRS § 61.850
61.850 Construction

KRS 61.805 to 61.850 shall not be construed as repealing any of the laws of the Commonwealth relating to meetings but shall be held and construed as ancillary and supplemental thereto.