Kansas Attorney General Steve Six performed a worthwhile service to the state last week by organizing and staffing four training meetings across the state on the Kansas Open Records Act and the Kansas Open Meetings Act.
The AG’s office partnered with the Kansas Sunshine Coalition and other government and media groups to present workshops in Dodge City, Olathe, Topeka and Wichita. The sessions were open to the public so the office could reinforce the basics of open records and open meetings not only with government officials and employees but with members of the news media and the public.
KORA and KOMA are two of the state’s most important tools to ensure government transparency and responsibility. They require public officials to conduct business in the public view and release documents that include important public information. Earlier this month the open records law was key in forcing the release of a Kansas State University audit report that included information so significant that it prompted the Kansas Board of Regents to require such audits on a regular basis at all state universities. That is information that Kansas residents deserve to have access to.
Although it would be convenient for public officials to keep more of their conversations and documents closed, we like to think that most of them understand the need for open government and want to comply with the open records and open meetings law. By conducting sessions across the state, Six emphasized the importance of these laws and made sure officials couldn’t use ignorance of the laws as an excuse for skirting them.
The attorney general has many duties, but it’s good that he recognizes the broad impact the principles of open meetings and records have on how well state government serves the residents of Kansas. His tour across the state last week was time well spent.