Kansas lawmakers call for reform after secrecy story breaks
Topeka ? Kansas lawmakers from across the political spectrum say they’ll push to fix the state’s culture of secrecy after a newspaper highlighted alarming levels of opacity in state and local government.
Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer pledged last week to address the problem of transparency. Colyer is set to take over as governor if Gov. Sam Brownback is confirmed as an ambassador, the Kansas City Star reported.
“Transparency is absolutely critical to increase Kansans’ confidence in government,” Colyer said. “I look forward to taking steps to increase transparency and improve public trust when I become governor.”
Colyer didn’t weigh in on specific questions raised in the series, nor did he offer policy moves he’d pursue to increase transparency, as some of his competitors for the 2018 Republican nomination did.
The Star’s series on secrecy highlighted several examples of state and local agencies hiding information from the public. Examples include KanCare recipients who were asked to sign blank plans of care, and a grieving father who was asked to sign a document that would have prevented him from talking about his son’s death and the Department for Children and Families’ involvement in the case.
Lawmakers called for reform last week. Republican Rep. Melissa Rooker said the choice of a new governor is important because the next choice will decide the cabinet secretaries that determine how open state agencies are.
“I think there is some legislative work to be done and I will be supportive, but this is really a change of culture that the voters control because it speaks to who we elect as governor because the governor controls appointments,” she said.