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Judge's hand holding gavel

Kentucky Lantern staff writer McKenna Horsley reports on the Kentucky Supreme Court's decision to review the Court of Appeals' October 2023 opinion favoring the public's right to know in Kentucky Open Government Coalition v Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources Commission.…

The Court will hear oral argument, but argument has not yet been scheduled.

Following the coalition's partially unsuccessful attempt in 2021 to access emails and text messages relating to commission business exchanged by commission members on both public and private devices and accounts, "the appellate court ruled that messages on personal cell phones are public records when they are created or used by government officials for government business," writes Horsley.…

"The lawsuit against Fish and Wildlife," she notes, "inspired legislation that ultimately failed in the General Assembly this year. Open government advocates, including the Open Government Coalition, warned that House Bill 509 would add loopholes to the open records law for public officials to avoid disclosing public records on personal devices, such as text messages."…

Per The Lantern:

"The bill gained passage in the House, but died in the Senate during the final days of this year’s legislative session because it was not brought to the floor for a vote. Republican Senate President Robert Stivers told reporters at the time he had 'no doubt' discussion about open records would come up during the interim session."……

A spokesperson for the Kentucky Open Government Coalition expressed the opinion that the nonprofit, nonpartisan group is "legally on absolutely solid footing" and that " [b]y and large, our courts have been very, very, very, very strong on open government and the rights invested in the public under the open records law."

"A spokesperson for the Fish and Wildlife department did not immediately return a request for comment."


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