E-Mail Now Allowed for Open Meetngs Notifications

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Local governments in Kentucky will now be able to notify news organizations about their special meetings by e-mail

The new provision in Kentucky’s open meetings law took effect earlier this month, and was touted as a money- and time-saver.

 

It allows local governments to send meeting notices electronically to any agency member or media organization that asks in writing for e-mail communications. Previously, e-mail notifications did not count as an official notice.

 

Virtually every state or local governing body is bound by the state’s open meetings law. Notice of a special meeting must be made in writing and include the date, time, place and agenda, with actions at the meeting limited to items on the agenda.

 

The law states that notice must be given at least 24 hours in advance by hand delivery, fax machine or mail to every member of the agency and to media that have requested, in writing, to be notified.

 

E-mail “gives the media and the public more timely notification of the special meetings as well,” said Allison Martin, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office. “Because you never can ensure when a mailed letter is going to arrive by the postal service.”

The state attorney general’s office is sending out notices of the new law to more than 1,400 public officials across the state. Martin said it cost the office about $150 to do the mailing, because most of it was sent electronically.

 

Under the law, it is up to individual news organizations or members of agencies to request to be notified of any special meetings by e-mail. The e-mail notification is not mandatory, Martin said.

 

Kentucky Press Association President David Thompson said the change had the group’s backing.

 

Sylvia Lovely, executive director of the Kentucky League of Cities, said the change is a small step that’s likely to have greater significance.

 

“It brings into the modern age the whole open records, open meetings concept,” Lovely said.

 

Debbie Batliner, a city clerk in Simpsonville, said the change should speed up notifications while saving time and money.

 

“It’s definitely more efficient because the word is going electronically,” said Batliner, who also is president of the Kentucky Municipal Clerks Association. “It does help us out in our job as clerks.”

 

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