KLC Open Meetings Initiative Clears House

The House of Representatives passed the KLC initiative that helps protect public resources and addresses rules for local governments when using video teleconferencing. House Bill 453 now heads to the Senate for consideration after the House cleared the measure 77-13.

Representative Jonathan Dixon (R-Corydon) sponsored the bill crafted in collaboration with the Kentucky Press Association. It provides local governments the same protection currently afforded to the state by allowing a committee or governing body to go into a closed session when selecting a successful bidder for a local contract.

“Currently, cities must solicit bids for almost all contracts totaling $30,000 or more and discuss the contract in a public meeting where anyone, including potential bidders, can learn how much the local government is willing to spend,” Dixon said while speaking from the House floor. “When bidders know the ceiling, they tend to bid towards it.”

House Bill 453 also allows closed sessions when a governing body conducts a city manager’s performance evaluation up to twice a year. These closed sessions must follow Kentucky Open Meetings Law requirements.

The measure further clarifies rules for video teleconference meetings that many public agencies have used during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bill requires notifying the public and media in advance of the video teleconference meeting. If the meeting has a physical location, local government officials must provide information about where it is and disclose any location where two or more members will attend the video teleconference together. Officials on the teleconference must leave their video camera on for the entire time the group discusses business. Under the Kentucky Open Meetings Law, the public has the right to see and hear what happens during the entirety of a public meeting.

A floor amendment added that any of the video teleconference meetings shall remain a regular meeting if the meeting occurs on the same date and time as originally scheduled and the public agency provides the required notice.