LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Recent rulings by judges regarding the secrecy of Louisville’s bid for Amazon’s second headquarters and the identities of Braidy Industries’ shareholders prompted state officials to help a write a bill that would ensure such information is not public under the state’s Open Records Act.
Gov. Matt Bevin’s economic development cabinet helped write HB 387, filed Thursday by Rep. Jason Petrie.
The bill would ensure that information such as the names of a company’s investors and the details of public incentives offered to a company, but not accepted, would remain confidential under the state’s records act.
In an interview Friday, officials with the cabinet said the bill is partially a response to 2018 rulings by judges in Jefferson and Franklin counties.
Those rulings ordered Louisville to release its bid for Amazon’s second headquarters and the state to turn over records regarding the shareholders of Braidy Industries – the eastern Kentucky aluminum company that the state itself invested in.
The Courier-Journal fought city and state officials for the records in both cases.
Jessica Burke, general counsel for the economic development cabinet, said the judicial rulings conflict with the cabinet’s longtime understanding that unexecuted incentive offers and investor identities are the sort of “confidential and proprietary” information that is already exempt from public record under the current law.
“These decisions made us aware that, wait a second, maybe this isn’t how everyone is interpreting this and so we need to get some clarity,” she said.
She said the bill is also designed to close a loophole that could require state officials to turn over records related to pending economic development deals worked in concert with neighboring states for bi-state regions.
Burke said the bill wouldn't change the state's practice of disclosing shareholders who own at least 20 percent of a company that is approved for an economic development incentive.