When governments bow down to private vendors, they ignore public’s right to know, experts say

Governments in many states are shirking transparency laws and blocking the public’s right to know, choosing instead to protect the intellectual property rights of private vendors.  “This is not a Kansas problem. It’s not an Oregon problem. It’s an everywhere problem,” Frank LoMonte, director of the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information, told KCUR-FM, Kansas…


Kansas Senate to consider effort to block excessive fees for open records

The Senate may take up a bill soon meant to prevent public agencies from deterring open records requests or using them as a revenue source by charging excessive fees.

The bill was scheduled for debate Wednesday afternoon, but was postponed.

Public agencies that testified against the bill have expressed concern it goes too far. But Sen. Jacob LaTurner, R-Pittsburg, has been pursuing such limits to what government can charge for a few years.


KS: Court says company running public hospital subject to Open Records Act

The Kansas Court of Appeals said Friday that financial records of a county-owned hospital are subject to the Kansas Open Records Act, even if the hospital is administered on contract by an outside nonprofit corporation.

The case involved the Kiowa County Memorial Hospital in Greensburg. In 2001, the hospital's board signed a lease agreement with Great Plains of Kiowa County Inc. to administer the hospital.


Kansas Lawmakers Consider Strengthening Open Government Law

Two bills before a Kansas Senate committee would make government meetings and records more accessible to the public.

Both bills were presented to the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee last week.

Senate Bill 70 clarifies a law that requires government bodies to justify going into private meetings. Under the measure, the reason for the private meeting would have to be recorded in public minutes.


KS: Advocates for more transparency in government testify on open records bill

Kansas news organizations and other open-government advocates came to the state Capitol on Thursday, pushing for more transparency in government meetings and reduced costs for records.

The groups are supporting Senate bills 86 and 70 in this year’s legislative session.

SB 70 clarifies what elected officials would have to tell the public when they meet in closed sessions.

SB 86 would place new limits on the prices public agencies can charge for copies of documents requested under the Kansas Open Records Act.


Kansas House unanimously passes bill to close private email loophole

The House voted unanimously Thursday to close a loophole in the Kansas Open Records Act that allowed public officials to avoid scrutiny by using private email to conduct official business.

SB 22 will close the loophole and make public officials’ private emails open records if they pertain to official business. Private emails on personal matters would remain private.


Push is on to make police investigation records public in Kansas

The more than 27-year-old case file on the disappearance of Randy Leach, a Linwood high school honor student, must be thousands of pages.

But it's impossible to know because the Leavenworth County Sheriff's Office and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, who investigated the long-ago mystery, refuse to release the records even to Leach's parents, Harold and Alberta Leach.


Kansas panel finding consensus on ways to reform open records law

A panel in Kansas coming to a consensus about how to reform the state’s open records law so it can’t be skirted by government officials using private e-mail or devices.

Sen. Molly Baumgardner, R-Louisburg, and Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, say the determining factor for whether a document is considered public should be the content of a record rather than where it’s stored. Continue…



Editorial: Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt grants a license to secrecy

With a preposterous opinion, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has created an opportunity for each and every state employee to operate behind a curtain of secrecy.

It is OK to conduct public business on private e-mail accounts, the attorney general said. And the correspondence need not be subject to the Kansas Open Records Act.


NFOIC’s State FOIA Friday for July 26, 2013

From NFOIC:  A few state FOIA and local open government news items selected from many of interest that we might or might not have drawn attention to earlier in the week.

While you're at it, be sure to check out State FOIA Friday Archives.

Wisconsin DOJ sets 3 seminars on public records, meetings