Bill: No published government info in 8 counties

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Local governments in Kentucky’s eight most populous counties would no longer be required to publish their ordinances, audits and bid solicitations in local newspapers, under a provision approved by the Senate this week.

Citizens in the other 112 counties would continue to be guaranteed full access to these important records and notices in their local newspapers — access that Kentuckians have long put to use holding local governments accountable.

In the big eight — Boone, Campbell, Daviess, Fayette, Hardin, Jefferson, Kenton and Warren counties — cities and counties could post the records on their government web sites and simply publish a newspaper notice of where the full documents could be read.

The problem with exclusively publishing on government-controlled websites is that governments might be tempted to make it harder to find the very bids, audits and ordinances that most merit public scrutiny.

What, you may ask, would justify less transparency in counties with 90,000 residents or more, the cutoff established in a Senate rewrite of House Bill 366?

As best we can determine, it’s for the convenience of small cities in Northern Kentucky. That’s not a good enough reason to chip away at Kentuckians’ public access to information about their local governments.

The measure also frees school districts from having to publish their financial statements and report cards in local newspapers as long as they put them online or in the public library.