The best addition to this year’s legislative session – besides the many new lawmakers – is the online audio feeds from certain committee hearings. The Legislature approved a bill last session – co-sponsored by Reps. John Whitmer, R-Wichita, and Blake Carpenter, R-Derby – authorizing the broadcasts. They and other proponents argued that the feeds would increase transparency and provide greater citizen access to state government. As of now, the audio feeds are limited to the three main hearing rooms, but 10 other hearing rooms are expected to have live audio before the end of this session. The public can access the audio streams by going to the Legislature’s website, kslegislature.org, clicking on the “Committees” tab and selecting a committee, such as Senate Ways and Means. If that committee has an audio stream, there will be a link. The next needed step forward in open government will be changing the audio feed to video. – Phillip Brownlee
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