New Kansas nonprofit to aid government transparency efforts

A new nonprofit institute to aid efforts at making government more transparent has received tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service.

The Kansas Institute for Government Transparency, Inc., (KIGT) is the brainchild of Mike Kautsch, a University of Kansas law professor and longtime media law consultant for the Kansas Press Association.

Since it is dedicated exclusively to charitable and educational purposes, KIGT has been approved for tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Week puts focus on openness

"Sunshine Week, March 13 to 19, is a time to celebrate the Kansas Sunshine Laws. Under these laws, state and local governments generally must open their meetings and records to the public. Under the Sunshine Laws, Kansans have a right to know how officials are exercising their power and find out what the government is up to.

However, the Sunshine Week celebration this year coincides with rising concern about whether government in Kansas is sufficiently transparent. Open-government advocates are calling upon the Legislature to enact improvements in the Sunshine Laws."

Kansas Supreme Court decision could affect drunk driving cases

"The Kansas Supreme Court ruled last week that criminal punishment for refusing a sobriety test violates both the fourth and the fourteenth amendments of the United States Constitution.

'The Kansas Supreme Court took the position that a warrant is necessary if you're going to impose a criminal sanction for objecting to law enforcement when it seeks to take a blood test or a breath test,' said Mike Kautsch, law professor at the University of Kansas."

Kansas legislature attempts to redefine public record

"Under Kansas Senate Bill 361, the definition of the term 'public record' would change, possibly blurring the line between public and private.

'{Under the new law} a public record is recorded information that a public employee makes or keeps or possesses pursuant to his or her officials duties and that relates to the public business of a public agency,' said Mike Kautsch, law professor at the University of Kansas.

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.

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In strip-club case, typically closed records were released, GOP tipped off

Karen Dillon wrote:

"The Legislature closed those records to the public more than 30 years ago, and if members of the public want incident reports and investigative files, they typically have to sue to get them. The cases can be expensive: Some have cost $25,000 or more.

So media law experts found it 'amazing' when they learned that Montgomery County Sheriff Robert “Bobby” Dierks released investigative files from 1998 last month with just a records request.

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