Sunshine Coalition not satisfied by process thus far on complaint against Kansas Senate

Though most of the major portions of the complaint filed by the Kansas Sunshine Coalition for Open Government with regard to the Kansas Senate’s behavior on the final day of the 2019 Legislative session have been closed by the Kansas Attorney General’s office, a spokesman for the Coalition is still troubled by what the AG has said he can’t address.

“The Attorney General didn’t weigh in on the constitutionality of the Senate action,” said Ron Keefover with the Sunshine Coalition.

The Kansas Constitution’s Bill of Rights has as its 11th entry that ‘The liberty of the press shall be inviolate’.

“What the Attorney General’s office has said is that the Open Meetings Act doesn’t provide for a Constitutional challenge of those actions,” Keefover said.

Keefover says this is more evidence that Kansas government isn’t as transparent as it should be.

“I can cite you a University of Arizona study that was just released June 24th that found that Kansas was tied with three other states for sixth to the last in an open government survey they had done,” said Keefover. “Only Tennessee and Oklahoma rated as poorly as Kansas did in that survey. We only were considered more open than Virginia, New Jersey, Mississippi, Arkansas and Alabama.”

Keefover went further to say that it is possible the Open Meetings Act may need changing, if at the end of the day, the Attorney General’s office doesn’t see anything the Senate did wrong here.

“If our Open Meetings Act is so toothless that it permits this kind of a closure, this kind of denial of Constitutional rights of the media to report the news, I think it’s sorely in need of amendment,” said Keefover. “I would push for changing the Open Meetings Act.”

The Sunshine Coalition for Open Government is a statewide coalition established in 2000. It includes representatives of like-minded non-profit organizations, journalism and law professors, members of the news media and other citizens committed to promoting open government in Kansas.