Kentucky citizens have the right to know how public agencies, officials, departments and other bodies conduct their affairs. Since passage of the Kentucky Open Records Act in 1976, all public records have been open for inspection by anyone who requests them, unless the record falls under an exemption.

The Open Records Act applies to all public records kept by state and local government entities, including:

  • State and local government officers, departments and legislative bodies
  • County and city governing bodies, school district boards, special district boards and municipal corporations
  • State or local government agencies created by statute or other legislative acts
  • Bodies that receive at least 25 percent of their funds from state or local authority
  • An entity where the majority of its governing body is appointed by a public agency
  • Boards, commissions, committees and other bodies that are established, created and controlled by public agencies
  • Interagency bodies of two or more public agencies

The full procedure for requesting public records, along with explanations of which records are exempt, is available here.

You must first send your request, in writing, to the official records custodian for the agency. You must describe the records you want to inspect, sign the request, and print your name.

Importantly, the request must seek records, not merely information. A request stating, “How much are the city’s employees paid?” is likely to be denied. The proper way to phrase the request is, “Please provide me with copies of the city’s payroll records for the most recent year.”

Your request may be hand-delivered, mailed or faxed to the agency. Sending your requests by email may be an option, but many agencies are not required to answer them. The state governor requires all executive branch agencies to accept email requests, but non-executive agencies do not have to do so.

The agency must respond to your request, in writing, within three business days. If you send your request to the wrong agency, or if the record you requested is unavailable, the agency is required to notify you. Similarly, if the agency refuses your request, the agency must explain why.

Records will be provided in whatever format they are kept. Agencies are not required to convert paper records to electronic formats.

If you are thinking of making a public records request, an experienced government law attorney can help you phrase your request clearly and make sure you’re directing it to the correct agency. The team at Hemmer DeFrank Wessels PLLC would be happy to assist. Please call our Fort Mitchell office at [ln::phone] or contact us online to set up a consultation.