Monday, March 19, 2012

House passes bill allowing county clerks to charge up to 50 cents a page for copies of any record

The state House has passed and sent to the Senate a bill that would allow county clerks to charge up to 50 cents per page for paper copies of any record and let them ban scanners, cameras and other devices that could be used to make electronic copies. An attorney general's opinion limits the charge to 10 cents per page unless the actual cost of producing the copy is greater.

The Kentucky Press Association supported a floor amendment Friday to remove the relatively short provision from the bill, a lengthy measure that otherwise deals with delinquent taxes. The floor amendment lost 73-15 and the bill passed 77-13, indicating that members of the Kentucky County Clerks Association had lobbied it well. For roll-call votes, click here.

KPA Executive Director David Thompson said the group is working with the clerks' association on an amendment "that would make the language specific to certain recorded documents and not generally all public records. Our plan is to amend it in the Senate. We do not want to kill the bill because for 99 percent of the legislation, it's changes in the property tax/delinquent taxes that county clerks need. We have no problem with that part. So we continue seeking changes only in one section that will make it acceptable to the public and the press and then we'll leave them alone."

The importance of the bill to the clerks could be indicated by its title, "An act relating to governmental revenue functions and declaring an emergency." Such a broad title could make it a vehicle for other types of amendments.

Ironically, the bill passed during Sunshine Week and on the 251st birthday of James Madison. For a copy of it, click here.

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