NOT TO BE PUBLISHED
January 25, 1996
In re: Mark R. Chellgren/Hon. Marshall Long, Chair, House Committee of
OPEN MEETINGS DECISION
This matter comes to the Attorney General as an appeal by Mark R. Chellgren of the Associated Press concerning action taken by the Kentucky House of Representative's Special Committee Investigation.
In an undated letter to Representative Marshall Long, Mr. Chellgren refers to the Special Committee of Investigation, created pursuant to House Resolution No. 17 (96 RS BR 1358). He maintained that the committee at its meeting of January 23, 1996, did not comply with the terms and provisions of the Open Meetings Act relative to notice, keeping of minutes, and the conducting of a closed session. He requested that the committee meeting scheduled for 8:00 a.m., Friday, January 26, 1996, be open to the public and conducted as required by the Open Meetings Act.
Rep. Marshall Long, Chair, House Committee of Investigation, replied to Mr. Chellgren in a letter dated January 24, 1996. He set forth in some detail what transpired at the committee's meeting on January 23, 1996. Other than for a closed session to determine probable cause the meeting was open to the public. It was announced that the committee would meet in executive session on January 26, 1996.
Rep. Long referred to KRS 61.810, the statutorily authorized exceptions to the general requirement that meetings of public agencies be open to the public. He said in part as follows:
If the Committee falls within that definition [of a public agency] as you allege, the Committee falls within the exception in paragraph (i) that exempts committees of the General Assembly other than standing committees. This Committee is not listed in the House Rules as a standing committee and HR 17 specifically states in Section 2 that it is not a standing committee. The Committee also may be exempt under paragraphs (j) and (f) of KRS 61.810(1).
Mr. Chellgren's letter of appeal to this office is dated January 24, 1996.
This office has previously said that the Open Meetings Act, generally, applies to the Kentucky House of Representatives. See 93-OMD-64, copy enclosed, at page three. The precise question is whether the activities of this particular House committee are subject to the terms and provisions of the Open Meetings Act.
KRS 61.810(1)(a) through (l) set forth the statutorily recognized exceptions to the general rule that all public meetings of public agencies are open to the public. Among the exceptions is KRS 61.810(1)(i) providing that Committees of the General Assembly other than standing committees can be excluded from the general requirement as to open and public meetings of public agencies.
Rep. Long has specifically stated that the House Committee of Investigation is not listed in the House Rules as a standing committee. Section 2 of House Resolution No. 17 states in part that, The special committee of investigation shall not be a standing committee and shall hold its initial meeting at the time and place designated by the Speaker of the House.
Since all of the evidence presented on the subject indicates that the House Committee of Investigation is not a standing committee of the General Assembly its activities can be excluded from the terms and provisions of the Open Meetings Act pursuant to KRS 61.810(1)(i).
A party aggrieved by this decision may challenge it by filing an appeal with the appropriate circuit court within thirty days from the date of this decision. See KRS 61.846(4)(a) and KRS 61.848. Pursuant to KRS 61.846(5), the Attorney General must be notified of any action filed in the circuit court, but he shall not be named as a party in that action or in any subsequent proceedings under the Open Meetings Act.
A.B. CHANDLER III
THOMAS R. EMERSON
ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
Copies of this decision
have been distributed to:
Mark R. Chellgren
The Associated Press
The State Capitol
Frankfort, KY 40601
Rep. Marshall Long
Kentucky House of Representatives
House Committee of Investigation
Legislative Research Commission
Frankfort, KY 40601