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Beshear Vetoes Bill Limiting Open Records About Police, Judges

Ky. Gov. Andy Beshear giving his daily coronavirus briefing on 4/9/20.
Ky. Gov. Andy Beshear giving his daily coronavirus briefing on 4/9/20.

Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed a bill that would shield personal information about police, prosecutors, judges and their relatives from open records requests.

Senate Bill 48 would have allowed a long list of public officials and their families to request government agencies to remove their addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, birth dates and a variety of other records from their databases.

In his veto message, Beshear said the bill was impractical.

“The additional exemption created in Senate Bill 48 for ‘public officers’ is drafted so broadly as to be unworkable in practice. Indeed, as a former Attorney General I could request my office number be redacted in all public records,” Beshear wrote.

Under the bill, public officers would also have been able to shield property tax records, vehicle registrations and other information typically available through open records.

The measure was originally limited to shielding addresses and locations of public officers, but on the last day of the legislative session it was expanded through a floor amendment filed by Republican Rep. John Blanton.

Beshear said the public officers named in the bill deserve protection, but that a different measure passed by the legislature this year already does that — Senate Bill 267, the anti-doxxing bill he signed into law Thursday.

That new law makes it a crime to publish personal identifying information with the intent to "intimidate, abuse, threaten, harass or frighten" any person.

“While the public officers and their household members included in Senate Bill 48 deserve protection, Senate Bill 267 provides appropriate protections without impairing the operation of public agencies and infringing on the public’s right to information about their government,” Beshear wrote.

The legislature overrodeBeshear’s veto of another bill limiting Kentucky’s open records laws, House Bill 312, which restricts out-of-state records requests and makes the legislature, instead of a court, the final arbiter of its own records decisions.

Since the legislative session ended last week, lawmakers won’t have a chance to override Beshear’s veto of Senate Bill 48.

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