Rep. Jason Petrie, R-Elkton (Photograph: Kentucky Legislative Analysis Fee)
FRANKFORT — The bill that may have put sweeping new restrictions on public entry to government data won’t be accredited by the 2019 Kentucky Basic Meeting.
“I’m not pushing it. I’m going into additional evaluation in mild of my conversations … with the KPA (Kentucky Press Association) and the attorneys to ensure we get it right,” Rep. Jason Petrie, the Elkton Republican who sponsored the bill, stated on Thursday.
Petrie’s House Bill 387 would have blocked from public disclosure records that include certain financial information, names of shareholders and business plans of companies seeking economic development incentives from the state.
It also would have concealed records dealing with proposed economic development incentives that didn’t end up being approved and finalized.
Live updates from the legislature: Joe Gerth chronicles the chaos and intrigue
Also, the bill was amended in the House Economic Development and Workforce Investment Committee last month to add sweeping additional restrictions on access to government records.
New provisions would have blocked out-of-state people or groups from using the Kentucky Open Records Act, ended the ability to appeal the denial of records by the legislative branch to court, and expanded the ability of government agencies to deny records by saying they are “preliminary.”
That version of the bill was met with a storm of criticism from advocates for open records. Michael Abate, attorney for the Courier Journal and the KPA, called it “a direct frontal assault on transparency.”
Amid the storm, Petrie said he had a long discussion about the bill with his friend Ryan Craig, owner of the Todd County Standard and adviser to the University of Kentucky’s student newspaper the Kentucky Kernel. Craig arranged for Petrie to meet with representatives of the KPA.
“We had a great conversation for probably over an hour …” said Petrie, who is an attorney.
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Previously: Experts say Kentucky bill to block open records access ‘really scary’
He said he asked the KPA attorneys for their analysis of open records cases brought by the Courier Journal: one seeking names of investors in the Braidy Industries aluminum plant project that received special state incentives, and the other seeking Louisville’s proposal to become the location of Amazon’s second headquarters.
“I intend to continue to work with them,” Petrie said. “I’m going to try to continue to protect economic development and make sure these two cases do not have bad unintended consequences for the development. But under no circumstances am I trying to gut a law. … All it took was somebody to actually sit down with me and talk.”
Abate was part of the group that met with Petrie. “We did have a productive meeting. And I’m glad to hear that this is going to slow…