Friday, April 29, 2016

Ky. papers get governor to veto provision that would have taken public notices out of papers

Gov. Matt Bevin
The Kentucky Press Association won a victory for government transparency and accountability this week, as its members persuaded Republican Gov. Matt Bevin to veto last-minute legislation that would have allowed local governments to stop publishing their annual financial statements in local newspapers and put them online or in the local public library. Similar efforts are being made in many other states.

The provision was in language added to the state budget by a House-Senate conference committee at the behest of a Northern Kentucky senator with many small cities that have to run their public-notice ads in The Kentucky Enquirer, an edition of The Cincinnati Enquirer. Republican Sen. Chris McDaniel said he intended to have the exemption apply only to counties of more than 100,000 population but last-minute drafting left that out.

When KPA discovered the language, its executive committee decided to ask Bevin to veto a similar provision that the legislature had been adding to biennial budgets for the last 12 years, exempting school districts. He vetoed both, without explanation, but his communications director, Jessica Ditto, said “Governor Bevin values our small-town papers and supports transparency.” Meanwhile, at McDaniel's behest, a legislative committee will study "the merits of public notices in newspapers vs. on government websites," the Lexington Herald-Leader notes in an editorial.

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