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Kentucky lawmakers have no right to take away the public’s right to know

Editorial, Louisville Courier Journal


 At a time when taxpayers, residents and voters need more, not less, transparency in our commonwealth, the Kentucky legislature is attempting to abolish the requirement that government agencies publish many legal notices in newspapers around the state.

 Instead, these agencies would be allowed to publish meeting notices on their own websites. Simply put, that means very few citizens will ever read them. It means you would have a harder time keeping up with school board budgets and tax rates, zoning changes and city projects built with your tax dollars.

 It means your government would move deeper into the shadows, making it difficult for you to hold your leaders accountable.

 Let's call it what it is: An attack on transparency — and it's unacceptable.

 Even the way this measure, which passed the Kentucky House in a 57-34 vote Friday, came into being was underhanded. It exemplifies why this is bad legislation for our commonwealth.

 Lawmakers hid the bill in House Revenue Bill 351, which was revised and released Thursday night, leaving some legislators in the dark about what was even in the bill when they came in to Friday's voting session.

 “This is the kind of stuff our folks don’t like, when you sneak stuff in the middle of the night," said Rep. Lisa Willner, a Louisville Democrat.

 She said the tactic was similar to 2018 when lawmakers converted a sewer bill into a pension measure, sparking outrage among teachers.

 Rep. Angie Hatton, a Democrat from Whitesburg and House minority whip, lashed out to fellow legislators: “You can’t sneak things in… and then trick people into voting for it.”