Henderson, 031820 KYAGO, AGO OAG 20-05

Docket Nº:AGO OAG 20-05
Case Date:March 18, 2020
Court:Kentucky
 
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Jim Henderson, Executive Director
AGO OAG 20-05
No. OAG 20-05
Kentucky Attorney General Opinion
Commonwealth of Kentucky Office of the Attorney General
March 18, 2020
         Daniel Cameron Attorney General.          Subject: Whether, under the current state of emergency declared by the President of the United States and the Governor of Kentucky, caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic, a public agency must identify a primary physical location for a video teleconference at which the public may attend and view a public meeting conducted through video teleconference under the Open Meetings Act.          Requested by: Jim Henderson, Executive Director Kentucky Association of Counties          and          J.D. Chaney, Executive Director Kentucky League of Cities          Written by: Carmine G. Iaccarino, Executive Director, Brett R. Nolan, Special Litigation Counsel          Syllabus: At this time and given the extraordinary circumstances public agencies are confronting, it is not “feasible” under KRS 61.840 to precisely identify a primary physical location for a video teleconference at which the public may attend and view a public meeting conducted through video teleconference under the Open Meetings Act. Instead, because of the public health necessity of imposing social distancing to help stop the spread of COVID-19, a public agency should precisely identify a website, television station, or other technological means by which the public may view a meeting conducted under the Act until the conclusion of the state of emergency.          OPINION OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL          In December 2019, the Hubei Province of the People’s Republic of China began experiencing an outbreak of a never-before-seen disease, COVID-19, caused by a novel coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the novel coronavirus appears to be a highly contagious virus that spreads “[b]etween people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).”1 Since December, COVID-19 has spread at an exponential rate throughout the world, crippling the healthcare systems and economies of multiple nations.2 The United States reported its first infection in mid-January 2020, and has now seen more than 4,000 cases. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization announced that the COVID-19 outbreak has reached pandemic status.3          In response to this novel coronavirus, the Governor of Kentucky issued Executive Order 2020-215, declaring a State of Emergency under KRS Chapter 39A and activating the Kentucky Emergency Operations Plan. Similarly, the President of the United States issued a Proclamation Declaring a National Emergency on March 13, 2020. Both the Governor and the President have activated their emergency authority to respond to this public health crisis. In Kentucky and many other states, governors have issued executive orders that mandate the closure of many privately owned businesses to the public. Similarly, schools and churches have closed.[4] As of March 17, 2020, the Kentucky Capitol and many state agencies have also been closed to the public.          The potential crisis facing the Commonwealth is of unparalleled magnitude. Yet, public agencies must continue providing critical public services. And in doing so, agencies subject to the Open Meetings Act (the “Act”) must conduct...

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