Sunday, February 7, 2010

Senate passes bills to open legislative finances, associations of local governments

The Kentucky Senate last week passed without dissent two bills that would make the actions of state government and associations of local governments more open. The bills are now in the House.

Senate Bill 40, sponsored by Republican Sen. Damon Thayer of Georgetown, would require all state agencies and universities to put their spending records on line by Jan 1, 2011. The bill calls for monthly updates of the amount and description of spending, including any documentation available electronically, for the main databases, while the state's electronic accounting system would be updated weekly.

The bill would do for the executive branch much the same done by the OpenDoor Web site and searchable database that the administration of Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear put on line last year. The judicial branch recently joined the system; the bill would effectively put the system into law and make the legislative branch part of it.

Senate Bill 87, also sponsored by Thayer, would extend the same requirements to the Kentucky League of Cities and the Kentucky Association of Counties, and require them to follow state purchasing rules and "adopt ethics and anti-nepotism rules," Jack Brammer reported for the Lexington Herald-Leader. The paper's reporting on expenses of the two groups led to the resignations of both executive directors.

KLC and KACo are funded by dues and insurance premiums paid by local governments. The bill would make clear that such groups are subject to open-records and open-meetings laws, with certain exceptions for their insurance businesses, and require an annual audit of each group’s finances, with the state auditor given access to the findings. House Speaker Greg Stumbo has said he expects the bill to pass the House. (Read more)

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