FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed a bill Thursday that would have shielded an array of information about judges, police and prosecutors in the state from public scrutiny.
The measure, which passed on the final day of the legislative session, had drawn a backlash from open-records advocates who said it would have weakened Kentucky’s open records law.
The Democratic governor’s veto kills the measure this year, since the Republican-dominated legislature will not have a chance to consider an override.
In his veto message, Beshear called the legislation “overly broad” and “impractical.”
The governor added that public safety concerns cited by the bill’s supporters in pushing its passage were “more properly” dealt with in an anti-doxxing measure that he signed into law Thursday.
The vetoed bill would have allowed any police officer, prosecutor and some court employees — along with their relatives — to shield an array of personal information from the public.
Supporters said the changes were meant to better protect the privacy and safety of police and others in law enforcement and public safety.
The shielded information would have included identifying information about a residence, property tax records, vehicle registration and employment assignments.
The veto was applauded by open-records advocates. Michael Abate, a lawyer for the Kentucky Press Association, said in a statement Thursday that the vetoed measure was “unnecessary, unworkable and internally inconsistent. Public agencies would have been wrestling for years to come with how to implement the law.”
In his veto message, Beshear said public officials and their relatives deserve protection. The anti-doxxing bill he signed provides “appropriate protections” without “impairing the operation of public agencies and infringing on the public’s right to information about their government,” he said.
He said the vetoed bill was crafted so broadly as to make it “unworkable in practice” for public agencies because of the extent of redactions of public records related to the affected officials it would have required.
“Indeed, as a former Attorney General I could request my office number be redacted in all public records,” the governor said.
The measure he signed into law more effectively tries to protect such officials, he said. That new law will prohibit the dissemination of personally identifying information when done so in an attempt to harass, intimidate, abuse or threaten that person.
The veto issued Thursday was Beshear’s latest on an open records-related bill.
He previously vetoed a measure intended to shield state lawmakers from facing court appeals after denying requests to review legislative records. Republican lawmakers overrode that veto. The bill intends for the appeals to be heard by a panel of legislative leadership from both parties. Beshear called it a “recipe for secrecy” that “defeats the entire purpose” of the open records law.
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