Brianna Childers
KU Statehouse Wire Service
In Jeff Colyer’s second set of executive orders as governor, he signed four orders that he hopes will create more transparency that better informs Kansans about the inner workings of state government.
During a news conference Feb. 8, Colyer detailed how each executive order will create transparency. He also recognized his guests from the Kansas Press Association (KPA), Kansas Broadcasters Association, and the Sunshine Coalition.
Doug Anstaett, KPA executive director, spoke briefly in support of the governor’s executive orders.
“We trust this new emphasis on transparency, both by the governor and state legislators, becomes the norm in Kansas, and we will work closely with the governor and any lawmakers who plans to come up with legislation to shine more light on government, and allow the public to participate more fully in the political process,” Anstaett said.
Colyer’s first executive order focuses on providing free government information requests made under the Kansas Open Records Act. Under the order, people who make an open records request will not be charged for the first 100 pages.
“This is the people’s house and they should be able to observe the actions we take without undue burden,” Colyer said.
He signed two other orders, one that creates an open meetings website so that citizens can view the location, schedule and minutes of meetings conducted by state agencies and another order that provides performance metrics for cabinet agencies so that Kansas residents can evaluate public officials and their organizations.
Colyer signed another order that requires all employees within the governor’s office to conduct state business using their official state email accounts. This order stems from former Gov. Sam Brownback sending emails to his staff through his private email address in 2015.
“Signing these executive orders on these four key vital issues makes sure government works for the people, that’s what’s important to me,” Colyer said. “Transparency is the key to better accountability, better accountability means real results for our Kansas citizens.”
In the spirit of more transparency, the House Federal and State Affairs Committee debated House Bill 2562 on Wednesday, which would require real-time audio broadcasts of all legislative committee meetings, and the chambers of the Kansas House of Representatives and the Kansas Senate in 2019. In 2020, the Act would expand the requirement to include real-time video broadcasts of all such meetings.
The committee is expected to continue to discuss the bill at a later date.
Brianna Childers is a senior at the University of Kansas majoring in journalism from Sedalia, Missouri.