Open meetings – Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor and his staff have determined any violations of the Kansas Open Meeting Act by legislators who attended dinners hosted by Gov. Sam Brownback at Cedar Crest were “technical” in nature and “borne of ignorance.” Maybe some of them didn’t know any better, but some did. And Kansans now must be wondering how long their elected officials will be able to wink at, or turn a blind eye to, the Kansas Open Meetings Act and receive nothing more than an admonishment and a recommendation they become more familiar with the law’s particulars.
Two lawmakers recalled that Gov. Sam Brownback asked Sen. Jeff King, R-Independence, to discuss the reform plan his KPERS commission was working on. After King’s presentation, they said, Brownback told members he wanted to see a bill based on those recommendations on his desk by the end of January. During a Q&A, Brownback was asked about his strategy for passing the legislation, the lawmakers said, and, although Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, warned the group that it might be straying toward an open meetings violation, the conversation soon returned to specific strategy for passage of the KPERS legislation, which would be handled directly by committee members in attendance. This is the kind of situation that should be of real concern to Kansans, especially in light of the likely prospect that by next January both houses of the Kansas Legislature will have conservative majorities whose legislative priorities are closely aligned with those of the governor. It would be tempting and far too easy for like-minded lawmakers and the governor to discuss important state business and policy outside the public view.
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Elected officials are in place to represent the people, not make laws they don’t have to follow. Anarchy would erupt if all their constituents decided to do whatever they chose, then simply say they weren’t aware of the law or didn’t remember the details of what took place.
Hays Daily News
Ultimately, the meetings at Cedar Crest are another example of the Brownback administration’s willingness to do whatever it takes to push through its experimental plan for Kansas’ future. The governor, as an individual, is not subject to the Kansas Open Meetings Act, yet he took advantage of an opportunity to discuss his legislative agenda with committee members, knowing they alone would face the consequences of any open meetings violations. Moreover, the governor’s and legislators’ disinterest in understanding the intent and the letter of Kansas open records and meetings laws demonstrates a callous disregard for Kansans’ right to view and participate in state government openly.
Yoder – Those Johnson County guardians of public virtue who are protesting the partially nude statue at the Overland Park Arboretum now have something much more serious to worry about. That would be their U.S. congressman, Republican Kevin Yoder, taking a naked dip in the Sea of Galilee. The trip was paid for by the American Israel Education Foundation, a nonprofit arm of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobbying group. Congress should close the loophole allowing foundations to pay for pricey trips. And Yoder should remain clothed on dry land.
Kansas City Star