Gov. Steve Beshear signed into law Wednesday two bills to strengthen public accountability for the embattled Kentucky Association of Counties and Kentucky League of Cities.
Senate Bill 88 requires both groups to hold open meetings, provide documents under the state's Open Records Act and create Web sites that show their expenditures. The bill also requires the adoption of procurement, ethics, personnel and compensation policies, and it requires training for local officials who oversee the agencies.
KACo and the League provide lobbying, legal advice, insurance and project financing for local governments, and they receive taxpayer funds in the form of dues and payments for insurance and financing services.
Senate Bill 77 strengthens the Kentucky Department of Insurance's oversight of liability self-insured groups, such as KACo and the League, and places these entities under a statute that prohibits inducements in any insurance transaction. The law allows for closer scrutiny of self-insurance groups, requires a formal conflict-of-interest policy and provides for more transparency in insurance matters.
The legislation follows reports by the Herald-Leader and state audits last year that showed the two organizations spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on travel, meals and entertainment, including expenses at strip clubs. The executive directors of both groups eventually stepped down.
"It is a positive step for taxpayers that lawmakers showed unanimous support for a measure that will ensure greater accountability and transparency for two organizations that provide important services to local governments," state Auditor Crit Luallen said. "We thank those legislators who worked closely with this office to make the legislation a reality."