Thefirst meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on State Government was held on Wednesday, June 27, 2007, at 1:00 PM, in Room 154 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Damon Thayer, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll. The Chair then recognized new members of the interim committee.
Members:Senator Damon Thayer, Co-Chair; Representative Mike Cherry, Co-Chair; Senators Walter Blevins, Jr., Julian Carroll, Carroll Gibson, Dan Kelly, Alice Forgy Kerr, Elizabeth Tori, and Johnny Ray Turner; Representatives Eddie Ballard, Sheldon Baugh, Carolyn Belcher, Johnny Bell, Dwight Butler, Larry Clark, Leslie Combs, Tim Couch, Danny Ford, Jim Glenn, Derrick Graham, J. R. Gray, Mike Harmon, Melvin Henley, Jimmy Higdon, Charlie Hoffman, Mary Lou Marzian, Darryl Owens, Tanya Pullin, Tom Riner, Carl Rollins II, Dottie Sims, John Will Stacy, Tommy Thompson, John Tilley, Jim Wayne, and Brent Yonts.
Guests: Kent Whitworth, Kentucky Historical Society (KHS), Commerce Cabinet; Lindy Casebier, Office of Arts and Cultural Heritage, Commerce Cabinet; Wayne Onkst and Richard Belding, Department for Libraries and Archives (KDLA); and Renee Craddock and Amy Barnes, Governor's Office for Local Development (GOLD).
LRC Staff: Joyce Crofts, Brad Gross, Alisha Miller, Karen Powell, Stewart Willis, and Peggy Sciantarelli.
First on the agenda was an update on the Kentucky Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, given by Kent Whitworth, Executive Director of the Kentucky Historical Society (KHS), and Lindy Casebier, Executive Director of the Commerce Cabinet's Office of Arts and Cultural Heritage.
Mr. Whitworth provided the Committee copies of a brochure and a fact sheet relating to the Bicentennial Commission. His remarks were accompanied by a DVD pictorial. Mr. Whitworth pointed out that the Commission is a statewide initiative, with leadership throughout the Commerce Cabinet and other state agencies, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth. He thanked committee members Senator Kelly, Senator Gibson, Representative Sims and Representative Yonts for their involvement as members of the Commission.
Mr. Whitworth discussed the Lincoln Bicentennial themes and the basic outcomes for measuring success of the bicentennial commemoration. The four themes are: Kentuckians who influenced Lincoln's personal development; Kentucky's role in developing Lincoln's character, politics, and ideals; effect of Lincoln's policies on Kentucky before, during, and after the Civil War; and relevance of Lincoln's message for the 21st century. The Commission established four outcomes: (1) Positioning: Establish Lincoln as a Kentuckian on both the state and national level; (2) Education: Incorporate the relevance of the Lincoln story into educational programming across Kentucky; (3) Cultural Infrastructure: Strengthen the long-term legacy of Kentucky's Lincoln sites and museums; and (4) Tourism: Enhance Kentucky's heritage tourism industry.
Mr. Whitworth said that that the Commission has been successful in securing both state and federal funding for the state celebration and has also generated $800,000 in private support to fund major exhibition projects and to serve as local matches for the more than $1 million in state grant funds that have been distributed across the Commonwealth. Referring to the fact sheet, he then spoke about statewide programs and activities that are being planned for Kentucky's bicentennial experience.
Mr. Casebier described the kickoff events for the National Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration that will take place in Louisville and Hodgenville on February 11 and 12, 2008. He expressed thanks for the legislature's support of the Bicentennial. He said that all legislators will be invited to attend the February 11 kickoff in Louisville at the Kentucky Center for the Arts, which will feature a number of celebrities and a concert by the Louisville Orchestra. He said that at a meeting of national liaisons in Washington, D.C., those attending were very impressed with the amount of money appropriated for the celebration in Kentucky and the importance that is being placed on the event. He added that a special issue Abraham Lincoln license plate is now in production and is expected to be available in August 2007.
Mr. Whitworth pointed out that the February 12 event in Hodgenville will be the actual inaugural event for the Bicentennial, which will be attended by the President of the United States. He encouraged committee members to attend both the Louisville and Hodgenville events.
Senator Kerr asked whether anyone from Lexington serves on the Commission. Mr. Whitworth explained that Kent Masterson Brown represents the Mary Todd Lincoln House on the Commission and that Gwen Thompson, Director of the Mary Todd Lincoln House, is a member of the Advisory Council.
Senator Kelly commented on the wide scope of Bicentennial projects and Lincoln-related sites across the state. Mr. Whitworth said that more than 50 grants totalling $1 million have been awarded through various state agencies to communities throughout the state. He said that there are Lincoln-related sites in at least 40 Kentucky counties and that the 12 primary Lincoln sites are featured in the brochure provided to the Committee.
Senator Gibson expressed his appreciation for the federal and state funds made available for the Bicentennial and the involvement of everyone who is supporting the projects.
Representative Glenn inquired how to obtain a Bicentennial pin. Mr. Whitworth said that the Commission would be glad to provide a supply of pins to members of the General Assembly.
Senator Carroll recognized former first lady Beulah Nunn for being instrumental in the restoration of White Hall and for encouraging the Carroll administration to restore the Mary Todd Lincoln House.
Representative Baugh inquired whether displays will be available to schools in all areas of the state. Mr. Casebier said that the Historymobile is being re-outfitted for a Lincoln exhibition during 2008 through 2010 and will travel throughout the state. He said there will also be small panel exhibits in schools, libraries, and courthouses. In addition, the Kentucky Historical Society, the Humanities Council, and the Arts Council will present theatrical programs to schools and community groups. He pointed out that an added benefit of the bicentennial celebrations will be their lasting cultural and educational impact.
Discussion concluded, and the Chair thanked the speakers. The next topic on the agenda was the Department for Libraries & Archives' responsibility for and needs relating to appropriate storage of the state's public records. Present from the Department were Wayne Onkst, State Librarian and Commissioner of Libraries & Archives, and Richard Belding, Director of the Department's Division of Public Records. They provided the Committee with copies of a PowerPoint document relating to their presentation.
Mr. Onkst said he is happy to report that Kentucky's libraries are thriving and that in the past year more people have been served in more ways than ever before. He updated the Committee regarding two bills enacted in the 2007 Regular Session relating to libraries. He explained that a bill [HB 273] was passed to allow county law libraries and public libraries to cooperate and exchange services, which will be especially helpful in the provision of electronic services. Previously the law was restrictive and did not allow county law libraries much latitude in providing services. The other bill [HB 386] would enable funds from the Board for Certification of Librarians to be used for library scholarships. He went on to say that in 1996, Kentucky ranked 51st in the number of professional librarians but now ranks 45th. Hopefully, the 2007 legislation will allow further progress, particularly in rural areas. The Department's goal is to have a professional librarian in every county. Mr. Onkst then turned the program over to Mr. Belding. He said that Mr. Belding, who will retire at the end of August, has served as state archivist for the past 21 years and has led development of an outstanding archives program that is nationally recognized.
Mr. Belding spoke at length about the importance of records management, the statutes governing KDLA, the Department's records storage needs, and the services it provides to state and local governments. In summary, he said that records held at the state archives begin their lives as public records created and received by state and local agencies in the normal course of business. Public record keeping is one of the fundamental responsibilities of government and is becoming increasingly complicated. Public records secure the legal and financial rights of governments, protect the rights of citizens directly affected by the actions of government agencies, and ensure accountability to the General Assembly and to the citizens. Records document previous actions and policies, help agencies effectively carry out their programs, and record the history and intent of public policy. The State Archives and Records Act, enacted 49 years ago, assigned KDLA the role of developing policies and principles to be followed by state and local agencies in operating their own records management programs; providing direct assistance to agencies to implement those programs; serving as a central depository for state archives for public records; and providing research access to records. The state archives on Coffeetree Road, which houses and makes available for research permanently valuable records, currently holds about 99,600 cubic feet of records. KDLA operates two leased facilities in Frankfort, which together comprise the State Records Center. They are designed to house records which agencies continue to need for business purposes but do not need to store in their offices. In the last 11 years, the quantity of records housed at the State Records Center has doubled in size, and the demand and use of those facilities by state agencies is very high.
Mr. Belding further said that records storage challenges have continued to grow. In 2000-02, KDLA engaged a consultant who recommended: (1) developing a digital archives; (2) expanding digital format conversion services; and (3) expanding the storage capacity for permanent records on paper. The consultant verified that there were between 25-30 years' worth of paper records destined to come to the state archives. KDLA has moved ahead on the first two recommendations by developing the first stages of an electronic records archives, which is accessible from the KDLA web site, and a document management digitization system. This system, now the Thomas D. Clark Center for Digital Imaging, was designed and implemented with funding provided in the 2000-02 budget. Despite these encouraging moves, KDLA still needs additional storage capacity for permanent records on paper.
Mr. Belding said that in June 2005, KDLA was obliged to issue a moratorium barring further transfers of records to the state archives because of lack of space. The moratorium was initially scheduled to last for 90 days, to allow staff to evaluate currently stored records and investigate other storage or reformatting options. While some additional space was captured, the moratorium did not achieve significant increases in storage capacity. The impact of constructing new county judicial facilities on KDLA's storage capacity underscored the need for expanding the archives capacity. The Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) determined that it was in the best business interest of local court facilities to limit local storage of historic judicial records and instead to transfer those records to KDLA. Judicial records are heavily used at the state archives for legal and other purposes. KDLA agrees with AOC's plan, but the state archives need to be expanded in order to receive any more records transfers from courthouse construction projects. The quantity of records eligible for transfer exceeds current capacity to accommodate them. In addition to judicial records that are awaiting transfer, a number of state agencies also have records awaiting transfer to the state archives.
Concluding his remarks, Mr. Belding said that for the additional needed space KDLA is recommending a high elevation, high volume repository construction design—a functional, economical design that is in use in more than 40 libraries and archives across the United States and Canada—which should provide significant capacity for probably 15-20 years of additional growth. He noted that the National Archives and other states have adopted a records management strategy similar to KDLA's.
Representative Graham questioned why KDLA has not been able to get funding for the additional space. Mr. Belding said that their proposal was recommended for funding by the Capital Planning Advisory Board in its 2005 review cycle, but it was not included in the Governor's executive budget or the Senate budget. It was included in the House budget proposal but was left out of the free conference report. He said that they understand the competitive environment of the budget process but feel that perhaps KDLA did not communicate as effectively as needed that the state archives facility in Frankfort impacts officials in every county of the state. Representative Graham said he hopes that the importance of KDLA's recommendations will be strongly considered in the next budget cycle. He asked what it would cost to store documents outside the state archives. Mr. Onkst said they are working on that estimate. He added that they provided the Capital Planning Advisory Board with cost estimates for digitizing versus storing records.
Mr. Belding said that new courthouses are designed to limit the amount of space for hard copy storage of historic records. He went on to explain that a digital solution may sound effective on its face but would involve considerable expense. KDLA thinks that their recommendation of a three-point strategy makes more sense as a solution for the immediate future. He said that construction of a new facility would cost approximately $11.1 million, whereas the increased rent cost to the Finance and Administration Cabinet for a comparable amount of space would be $134,400 per year. To digitize the amount of records that could be held in a repository of the same size—67,000 cubic feet, or about 201 million images—would probably cost about $25 million. Representative Graham suggested that KDLA will have to eventually move more toward digital operations, as technology advances. Mr. Belding concurred but added that this would require a consensus on sound procedures for permanently managing digital information. He said that a recent publication of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, headquartered in Lexington, says that we are "not quite there yet"—that there is not that type of consensus. The National Archives says the same thing.
Senator Blevins spoke about a project in Carter County that is converting abandoned mines into secure data storage space and asked whether that kind of facility might be feasible for KDLA. Mr. Belding said that they would be glad to take a look at that. He emphasized, however, that accessibility to records, or storage for use, is a key requirement for the archives. When Senator Blevins asked about life expectancy of different types of data storage, Mr. Belding pointed out that digital media is more fragile than microfilm, and its longevity is impacted by a variety of things.
Senator Carroll asked whether the moratorium is still in effect. Mr. Belding responded affirmatively. Senator Carroll asked whether the idea of requiring the court system to contribute to the cost of maintaining judicial records has been pursued. Mr. Belding said that AOC works closely with KDLA and has paid for format conversion of some materials from the judicial branch. Senator Carroll suggested to Mr. Onkst and Mr. Belding that they take a look at the real cost of maintaining judicial records in order to ensure that the judicial system is "carrying its load."
Representative Owens asked who would pay for storage of judicial records when the courthouses run out of storage space, in view of the fact that the moratorium is still in effect. Mr. Belding said that, pursuant to KRS 171.680, he assumes the cost would be borne by the judicial system until such time that records could be transferred to the archives.
Representative Stacy asked that the complete consultant's report be provided to the Committee, and Mr. Belding said that they would be glad to. Representative Stacy asked whether the storage capacity of other states had been compared to Kentucky's. Mr. Belding said that they have looked at several states that have constructed storage facilities in the past 5-10 years. He went on to say that Virginia, Georgia, and Mississippi have recently constructed buildings with significant storage capacity; and the National Archives for the southeast region, located outside of Atlanta, in addition to measures taken relating to electronic records, has built a new repository for 250,000 cubic feet of records in traditional form. Representative Stacy said he has information from committee staff that only seven states—many much larger and with many more records than Kentucky—have more storage capacity than Kentucky. Mr. Belding pointed out that many of the larger states do not have programs as old as Kentucky's. New York state, for example, did not have a state archives until 1976, almost 20 years after Kentucky's was established.
Representative Stacy asked whether local and university libraries had been consulted about becoming record depositories. Mr. Belding said that he had in the past worked on the planning committee for an off-site, high density records and library storage facility at the University of Kentucky. That initiative did not proceed, but KDLA had been interested in it as a potential storage source. He said KDLA had not talked about the issue with any other libraries. Representative Stacy questioned whether citizens and state offices in other parts of the state have reasonable access to documents stored in Frankfort. Senator Thayer noted, conversely, that it would burden state government agencies in Frankfort to have to travel to remote parts of the state to find stored information. Representative Stacy suggested that KDLA check with other state libraries to learn whether they have excess capacity, before asking the legislature for $11.1 million. He said that, with tutoring by KDLA, some of those facilities might be capable of storing and caring for documents.
Representative Stacy asked whether KDLA had consulted with agencies about what documents need to be stored permanently. Mr. Belding said that they do this regularly. They have two records analysts who work with 156 state agencies, and four analysts work with local government offices around the state. Representative Stacy said that the cost of generating and maintaining electronic records continues to decrease and might offset the cost of storage at existing facilities. He said this might be worth considering prior to the next budget session.
Senator Thayer thanked the speakers and wished Mr. Belding a happy and well deserved retirement. Next on the agenda was discussion of monitoring of local government receipts by the Governor's Office for Local Development (GOLD). The agency was represented by Renee Craddock, Chief of Staff, Office of the Commissioner; and Amy Barnes, Coal Development Branch Manager in the Office of State Grants.
Ms. Craddock explained that GOLD unsuccessfully proposed legislation relating to project monitoring in the 2007 regular session for the purpose of putting existing procedures into statute. [The legislation, SB 143, passed, but the original provisions proposed by GOLD were deleted.] She went on to explain that prior to 2005, funding was made available to recipients in a lump-sum check, once a memorandum of agreement had been executed. At that time the state was unable to assess whether the funds were spent for their intended purpose in accordance with statute and regulations. In July 2006, GOLD began to monitor all projects above $50,000 that fell under the Office of State Grants. By the end of the biennium, GOLD will have projects totalling about $444 million. Currently, grant monies are given on a reimbursible basis, and communities are asked to submit a Request for Disbursement form, with invoices and estimates attached. The Office of State Grants has five monitoring staff in four locations across the state who not only monitor projects but also offer technical assistance to communities that receive grant funds. Project monitoring was not intended to be an audit; rather it is a way to assure that funds are expended correctly.
Ms. Craddock said the legislation proposed by GOLD would not require new funding. She said the monitoring process is working and that GOLD hopes it will have the support of the legislature.
Senator Gibson asked how excess monies were handled at the local level prior to monitoring. Ms. Craddock explained that a community might request money for sewer or water lines, for example, and find that the project was completed under budget. Previously, the community would keep the money and funnel it to another project; now the money comes back to GOLD and goes into the single county coal severance account or community economic growth grants for redistribution. Senator Gibson commended the agency for its monitoring procedure and said he hopes the legislation will move forward in the next regular session.
Representative Clark said that in March and April 2007 he had sent a letter to the Governor regarding the Wolf Creek Dam projects, with a copy to GOLD. The letter asked for an explanation of the $25 million for the projects and inquired whether they were related to public interest and public safety, or whether they were intended to prevent or lessen economic harm to private business interests. He noted that Steve Robertson, then head of GOLD, had contacted him on the last night of the 2007 session, but there was not time to discuss the matter then. Representative Clark requested that GOLD provide the Committee an itemized list of the Wolf Creek projects, indicating whether they are public or private and how the $25 million is being spent. He said that having the list would provide accountability and help in the formation of future public policy on this type of spending.
Representative Pullin thanked Ms. Barnes for the assistance she has received from her in the past. Senator Thayer and Representative Stacy commended Ms. Craddock and Ms. Barnes for the good work of their offices.
The final item on the agenda was a subcommittee report given by Representative Owens, Co-Chair of the Task Force on Elections, Constitutional Amendments, and Intergovernmental Affairs. The Committee approved the report without objection. Business concluded, and the meeting was adjourned at 2:30 p.m.