Friday, March 26, 2010

Good government measure finally moves ahead

A dispute between the two houses of the Kentucky General Assembly apparently has been settled, paving the way for passage of legislation that will require two state government associations to open their operations to the public.

The House of Representatives on Friday approved language that would make the Kentucky League of Cities and the Kentucky Association of Counties subject to open records and open meetings laws, give their boards a code of ethics and allow the state auditor to review their books, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. The bill also would require the organizations to post their expenditures online and adopt policies on pay and bids.

Passage was delayed by wrangling between the two houses. Similar bills were introduced by Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, and Rep. Arnold Simpson, D-Covington. Simpson told the Lexington Herald-Leader that state Auditor Crit Luallen had suggested most of the provisions of the legislation. Each house had passed a version of the bill, but then the process stalled. The House passed a version 94-0 on Friday, and the Senate is expected to go along.

Reporting by the newspaper during the past year uncovered extravagant spending by officials of the two agencies. The revelations led to the resignations of both executive directors, scathing audit reports by Luallen, and calls for reform by legislators and local officials.

The League of Cities and Association of Counties 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.

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