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.


Judge denies Kansas statistician access to paper tapes to audit voting machines

A Sedgwick County judge has ruled that a Wichita State University statistician won’t get access to paper tapes from voting machines to search for fraud or mistakes.

Judge Tim Lahey denied a motion by Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman to dismiss the case brought by statistician Beth Clarkson. But that was a hollow victory for Clarkson. Her point in filing the lawsuit was to gain access to the tapes to check the accuracy of the voting machines, searching for an answer to statistical anomalies she has found in election results.


Kansas lawmakers want to limit release of police video

Kansas lawmakers are working to restrict public access to law enforcement body camera footage in an effort to protect the privacy of people caught on camera. 

A bill introduced by the House judiciary committee last week would limit release of the video to the people in the footage, their attorneys and their parents if they are minors. The public would have access to footage only through a court order. A judge could release the recordings if it is in the public’s interest or if it wouldn’t interfere with a police investigation.


Kansas transparency pledge drawing few lawmakers

Only a handful of Kansas' 165 legislators have signed an initiative to promote openness and transparency in state government by taking what is being called the "transparency pledge," but the list does include most Lawrence-area legislators.

The Open Kansas initiative was announced Jan. 27 by a coalition of advocacy groups, including Kansas Appleseed, El Centro, Communities Creating Opportunity, Kansas Action for Children, and Kansas Association of Community Action Programs.


Kansas newspaper charged $3K for records request

To finish an open records request, the Department for Children and Families told The Topeka Capital-Journal the newspaper would have to pay almost $3,000, a fee criticized by government transparency advocates.

On Dec. 8, a Capital-Journal reporter requested two days worth of incoming and outgoing emails from six DCF officials. On Tuesday evening, DCF asked for $2,855 for 2,400 emails and more than two days worth of staff time.


Editorial: Brownback vs. Transparency in Kansas

Dog catchers, school board members, county commissioners, governors — all politicians run for public office swearing up and down they’ll stand against government secrecy — they’ll swear your right to be informed about the people and processes that govern you will not be infringed on their watch.

And then they win election. 


State committee looks to update Kansas Open Records Act for digital age

Kansas policymakers say they want to bring the state’s open records law into the 21st century and ensure that public officials can’t flout it by using private e-mails and personal devices.

A special committee held its first meeting on the issue Friday and identified numerous questions on how the 30-year-old Kansas Open Records Act ought to be updated for a digital world.  Continue>>>