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Archive for Friday, March 11, 2005

Committee puts ‘Lew Perkins’ bill on fast track

March 11, 2005

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— Full disclosure of any public employee's total compensation would be assured under legislation put on the fast track to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius by a House committee.

The Governmental Organization and Elections Committee unanimously agreed Thursday to put the Senate-passed bill in position where it could receive a quick vote next week without debate or amendments. If passed, it would go to the governor.

Dubbed the "Lew Perkins Provision," after the University of Kansas athletic director, the bill amends the Kansas Open Records Act.

In 2003, the Lawrence Journal-World asked the university to fully disclose Perkins' compensation package. The university refused and The World Company, which publishes the newspaper and operates cable television station 6News, filed a lawsuit last year to force disclosure. The Associated Press and the Kansas Press Association later joined the litigation.

A Douglas County district judge ruled against the university which then released the records.

The records law requires disclosure of records of names, positions, salaries and lengths of service of public employees. However, it allows agencies to refuse to release personnel records, performance ratings or other "individually identifiable records" about employees.

The university and its Athletic Corporation argued the provision covered Perkins' records. Judge Jack Murphy disagreed, saying all compensation records for public employees are open, even documents detailing compensation from private sources.

The bill says employment contracts or agreements also must be disclosed.

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