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Attorney General brings needed clarity to open meetings law

The Kansas Attorney General’s Office recently issued two official opinions (AGOs) that go a long way toward clarifying a provision of state law that allows many state, county, and municipal agencies to discuss public business in closed, or executive, sessions. The Kansas Open Meetings Act (KOMA) generally requires government bodies to meet openly so that […]

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Officer-involved shootings and “Body Cams”

As the use of body-worn cameras grows, so do the odds that images and sounds depicting the use of force by law enforcement will be a matter of public concern.  Law enforcement’s disparate responses to two high-profile officer-involved shootings, one in Topeka involving an armed and fleeing suspect, and the other in Wichita involving a deadly prank, highlight why […]

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Fresh Tips: Sample Request for Records

Note: The primary purpose of this request form is to easily enable requestors to include in their requests all statutory language in the Kansas Open Records Act (KORA) related to public agencies’ duties to disclose public records. Although a KORA request is not required to be in any particular form, including the language here in your request […]

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Open Records Act brings Sunshine

Advocates of open government have good reason to celebrate this Sunshine Week, a national celebration of government transparency, which runs from Sunday, March 12, through Saturday, March 18.  In Kansas, the week also represents an annual commemoration of the Kansas Sunshine Laws, which primarily include the Kansas Open Records Act (KORA) and the Kansas Open […]

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Agency seeks closure of law enforcement evaluation records

[NOTE: The following is legislative testimony I submitted for a March 15 hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee opposing the attempt by the Kansas Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards and Training (KS CPOST) to close certain records related to Kansas law enforcement officers.  It has been corrected for typographical errors.] March 15, 2017 To: Sen. […]

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House bill seeking closure of “public comment sessions” before prisoner review board may be unconstitutional

A bill proposed this session, HB 2338, would amend K.S.A. 22-2717(h) so that “public comment sessions” before the Prisoner Review Board would become “private comment sessions” no longer open to the public.  Further, HB 2338 seeks to amend K.S.A. 75-4318(g)(2) of the Kansas Open Meetings Act (KOMA) so that the “comment sessions” are not open […]

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New Oklahoma vital statistics law highlights restricted access in Kansas

To the chagrin of genealogists and researchers, Kansas joins the federal government in severely limiting access to birth and death information. Except for instances where determining the parentage of a child is relevant to a limited class of legal proceedings, Kansas law, specifically K.S.A. 65-2422d(c), does not “permit inspection” of birth and death records unless […]

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Media coverage on election day in Kansas

Members of media organizations and citizen journalists alike should be cognizant of their rights and legal limitations as they cover election day in Kansas. Those seeking to cover a polling place are considered to be “visitors” as set forth in Chapter II(f) of the Kansas Secretary of State Election Standards.  All visitors are encouraged to […]

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