After police shot and killed her son, mother uses open records laws to find answers, spark change

From “A mother’s quest for openness provides map for spurring change,” published March 1, 2022 in The Journal: A Civic Issues Magazine. “When Sheila Albers, of Kansas, couldn’t get answers to the questions she had after her 17-year-old son was shot and killed by an Overland Park police officer while the teen was in the…


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…


Rules on releasing police body-camera footage vary; nine states are most restrictive, The Hill says

Alabama, Arizona, Kansas, Maine, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Wyoming have the most restrictive laws regarding the disclosure of police body-camera recordings. That’s according to a May 10, 2021, article in The Hill. “With no federal requirements on releasing police videos, states often differ in their approach to making the footage publicly available,…


Editorial – Here’s how the Legislature can make Kansas a better place to live in 2018

Kansas legislators will gather Jan. 8 in Topeka for one of the most crucial legislative sessions since — well, since 2017. The truth is Kansas has faced one governmental crisis after another for much of this decade. Much of the blame lies with Gov. Sam Brownback and his conservative allies, who pushed through a tax cut in 2012 that…


‘One of the most secretive, darkest states’: What is Kansas trying to hide?

The statement was simple. Factual. A Kansas spokesperson was acknowledging that the state highway department didn’t have the money to rebuild a dangerous stretch of Interstate 70 that had been the scene of multiple wrecks and a grisly motorcycle fatality caught on video. “KDOT has lost a lot of money over the last few years,” the spokesperson…


Kansas: Woman awarded for keeping local government information open to public

A woman was honored Friday for her pursuit of keeping her local government open to the public.

The Kansas Sunshine Coalition for Open Government presented its 2017 Friend of Open Government award to Debbie Miller of Independence, Kansas.

The group says Miller has pressed her local government for openness over the past several years. They say one instance, when she pressed for a copy of the form the city uses to evaluate the city manager's job performance, stood out to them.


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.


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.