The Open Records Act
In 1976, the General Assembly enacted the Open Records Act, KRS 61.870 to KRS 61.884, which establishes a right of access to public records. The General Assembly recognized that free and open examination of public records is in the public interest. All public records, whether they are stored in a computer or on paper, must be open for inspection unless the records are exempted by one or more of the fourteen exemptions found in the Act. You may inspect any nonexempt public record regardless of your identity, and you may seek enforcement of the Act if you are denied this right.
Many of Three River’s files are subject to the Open Records Act (with the exception of medical records which are governed by HIPAA).
What are public records?
The Open Records Act applies to public records maintained by state and local government agencies. The agencies covered by the Act include:
- State and local government officers, departments, and legislative bodies;
- County and city governing bodies, school district boards, special district boards, and municipal corporations;
- State or local government agencies created by statute or other legislative acts;
Bodies that receive at least 25% of their funds from state or local authority;
- An entity where the majority of its governing body is appointed by a public agency;
- Boards, commissions, committees, etc., that are established, created, and controlled by public agencies; and
- Interagency bodies of two or more public agencies.
Subject to fourteen exceptions, records that are prepared, owned, used, possessed, or retained by a public agency are public records, and must be made available upon request.
- The term “public records” includes all such records even if they are not subject to inspection under an exemption and therefore not “open records.”
- The term “public record” includes emails, databases, and other records electronically generated and/or stored.
- The term “public record” may include public agency records that are not maintained on the agency’s premises.
The Open Meetings Act
In 1974, the General Assembly enacted the Open Meetings Act, KRS 61.800 to KRS 61.850, which establishes a right of access to public meetings. The General Assembly recognized that the formation of public policy is public business, and should not be conducted in secret. The Act requires that all meetings of a quorum of the members of a public agency where public business is discussed or action is taken must be public meetings. Public meetings must be open to the public at all times unless the subject of the meeting falls within one or more of the thirteen exceptions found in the statute. You may attend any public meeting, and you cannot be required to identify yourself in order to attend.
For more information regarding both Open Records and Open Meetings Law please see: Protecting Your Right To Know: The Kentucky Open Records and Open Meetings Acts and also visit the Attorney General’s Website.