Author

Amye Bensenhaver

Amye Bensenhaver

Amye Bensenhaver is a retired Kentucky assistant attorney general who authored open records and open meetings decisions for 25 years. She is co-founder and co-director of the Kentucky Open Government Coalition.

COMMENTARY

Kentucky appeals court rejects gravest threat yet to the open records law

By: - October 31, 2023

Open government advocates are inclined to rhapsodize about every judicial victory that advances the cause of public agency accountability and defeats government secrecy.  But it is nearly impossible to overstate the importance of the Court of Appeals’ Oct. 27 opinion in Kentucky Open Government Coalition v Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources Commission. One […]

COMMENTARY

Bipartisan backlash killed most of Sanders’ anti-transparency agenda

By: - September 21, 2023

It’s doubtful that Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders anticipated the national firestorm she would ignite on Sept. 8 when she called the state’s General Assembly into special session — commencing Sept. 11 — to enact legislation aimed at upending the state law governing the public’s right to know, the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act. Clearly, […]

COMMENTARY

Beware Sanders-like attack on government transparency by Kentucky’s supermajority

By: - September 12, 2023

Arkansans set a high bar for Kentuckians in responding to their governor’s direct assault on the state’s public records law, and their message is clear: Stop putting the public’s interest last yet again.  As one critic loudly proclaimed, “Avoiding public scrutiny is neither bold nor conservative; it’s weak and reactionary. Requiring elected officials to obey […]

COMMENTARY

Kentucky courts navigating open meetings questions raised by pandemic mask mandate

By: - August 29, 2023

“The purpose of open meetings laws is to provide a window, not a weapon for political sparring.” — Kentucky Court of Appeals ruling by Chief Judge Larry E. Thompson, Judges Kelly Mark Easton and Annette Karem in Campbell County Board of Education v. Ken Moellman Sr. and Noam Heim  An open meetings challenge to policies […]

COMMENTARY

A judge rejects Cameron’s disregard for a half-century of open government precedent in Kentucky

By: - June 27, 2023

At long last, Attorney General Daniel Cameron has been called out by a court for ignoring precedent when it conflicts with his policy preferences for secrecy in government. The Oldham County Circuit Court’s June 13 open meetings opinion in J. Albert Harrison v. Oldham County Ethics Commission should serve as a cautionary tale for Kentucky’s […]

COMMENTARY

Daniel Cameron enemy of open government

By: - May 25, 2023

What would a Daniel Cameron gubernatorial administration look like through the lens of Kentucky’s open government laws? In a word: opaque. Since taking office as attorney general in December 2019, Cameron has established a track record of disdain for the public’s interest in free and open examination of public records and the formation of public […]

COMMENTARY

Cultivating a culture of transparency and accountability

By: - May 1, 2023

Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg is making good on his campaign promise to improve Louisville Metro open records compliance in his first budget. He has allocated $475,100 to create a new Department of Records Compliance, including six new positions to handle open records requests. “Greenberg has expressed the hope that this proposal will make Metro government […]

COMMENTARY

Kentucky legislature excluded public from all but the most carefully orchestrated ‘debate’

By: - April 5, 2023

“Adjourned sine die.” The sweetest phrase in the legislative lexicon. Open government advocates on March 30 breathed a sigh of relief as lawmakers departed the Capitol until noon, January 2, 2024 — certainly compared to a broad swath of Kentuckians who felt the sting of legislative injustice in the 2023 Regular session. It was a […]

COMMENTARY

As threats to open government in Kentucky keep multiplying, it’s hard to celebrate

By: - March 13, 2023

I will not celebrate Sunshine Week 2023. Since leaving the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office in 2016, I have pursued open government as an avocation rather than a vocation. I have come to understand the importance of Sunshine Week as an annual celebration of public records laws securing the public’s right to know how their elected […]

COMMENTARY

Secret juvenile justice work group the latest in Kentucky legislature’s contempt for transparency

By: - February 7, 2023

Across the nation —  and particularly in Arizona and Mississippi — opposition is rising to state legislatures’ direct and indirect efforts to exclude themselves from public oversight. A chorus of newspapers, including The Washington Post, have exposed — if not decried — this groundswell of legislative secrecy. For nearly a half century, Kentucky’s open records […]

COMMENTARY

Will Kentucky legislature end a patient’s right to one free copy of medical records?

By: - January 17, 2023

Move along, folks. Nothing to see here. Just another attempt by Kentucky lawmakers to take from the poor and give to the rich. The pretext for this most recent money grab is the “huge burden on the health-care system when it comes to medical records” and a promise to “lower overall health care costs.” HB […]

COMMENTARY

Look for more attacks on Kentucky’s open government laws

By: - December 2, 2022

Kentucky lawmakers faced a dilemma in 1975. One year earlier, they enthusiastically enacted an open meetings and an open records law aimed at restoring the public’s trust in government. Years of deception associated with the Vietnam Conflict and clandestine and illegal activities by the Nixon administration — collectively referred to as the Watergate scandal — […]