Rep. Mike Kiegerl
Your editorial in the Feb. 22 edition, “Recording Should be Allowed in Committee Meetings,” is so far off the mark that a response is required. The Rules for all committees are traditional and set for a reason. To begin with, all committee activities are open to the public. Conferees are asked to provide 30 copies of their testimony in advance which is also available to anyone.
There are compelling reasons to prohibit recording and taping of hearings. For once, it is impolite and disturbing to both the committee and the conferee to have someone walking about taking pictures while they address the 24 members of the committee. Many conferees are nervous, intimidated and uncomfortable to begin with. But the more important reason is that conferees deserve the right to privacy.
The Federal and State Committee, on which I serve, hears very controversial issues such as gun rights, immigration reform, abortion and homosexual matters and at times, opposing testimony gets very heated and hostile.
The last thing we want is that pictures of conferees find their way on the social networks which could have serious consequences. In fact, we just passed a bill to remove the home address of police officers who testify in court because of cases of serious harassment and threats to their families and children. You have seen in the recent event concerning the city council that tempers flare.
I was present during the event you cite and Chairman Steve Brunk did exactly the right thing in enforcing the rules. As chairman of the Children’s and Families Issues Committee, I have also enforced the rules. In fact, I ejected an individual for trying to film the testimony of a distraught grandmother who tearfully described how her grandchildren were removed from her home.
She is not a public figure and invading her privacy is unlawful. I see no reason why Chairman Brunk or I should apologize to all of Kansas as your editorial suggests, nor do I see how free flow of information is impeded when anybody can attend and every word spoken is readily available.