Transparency on private attorney contracts with state passes out of House committee

A bill to bring more accountability and transparency to taxpayer dollars by capping the amount of contingency fees collected by private attorneys for government work passed through the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday.

House Bill 198, sponsored by Rep. Jason Nemes, seeks to shine a light on contingency fee contracts entered into by the Kentucky Attorney General and ensures the Commonwealth remains in control of litigation when hiring contingency fee counsel.

The legislation, Nemes said, would create transparency, set reasonable limits on contingency fees, and codify recent case law requirements to ensure the state remains in control of any litigation involving contingency fee counsel.

Nemes commended Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear for his work in recent years and said the bill is not an attack on the office of the attorney general but instead to ensure contracts are necessary and taxpayers dollars are spent wisely.

Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Dave Adkisson was also at the committee meeting in favor of the legislation, as the business community feels a lack of transparency and certainty in a state’s legal climate can harm economic competitiveness and drive job creators elsewhere.

“Without proper transparency and oversight, private attorney contracting can put Kentucky businesses at a severe disadvantage against private attorneys granted the full prosecutorial power of the state. When the Attorney General hires private attorneys on contingency it raises the potential for the government’s work to be motivated by profit, and not the public interest,” Adkisson stated.

Kentucky is ranked 42th among the states for our legal liability climate according to the most recent Institute for Legal Reform report.

House Bill 198 now moves to the full House for a floor vote.

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Jacqueline Pitts
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