KPA to pursue KORA cost containment bill

Posted December 18, 2019

The Kansas Press Association and its partners for open government will concentrate this year on legislation to rein in the high costs associated with Kansas Open Records Act requests.

KPA, the Kansas Association of Broadcasters, Kansas Sunshine Coalition for Open Government and the Kansas Institute for Governmental Transparency have worked together to formulate language to amend KSA 45-219 to limit charges for staff time and other expenses and to even waive some charges if the request is determined to be “in the public interest.”

Max Kautsch, KPA’s legal hotline attorney, and Mike Kautsch, KPA’s media law consultant, researched and then penned the new language.

“Once we get a legislator or two to sponsor our bill, we’ll make the specific language available to our members,” said Doug Anstaett, KPA consultant and lobbyist. “We’ve already shared our ideas with Attorney General Derek Schmidt and his staff, and he now has our proposed language as well. We’re awaiting his feedback before we proceed, but his initial reaction to our ideas was encouraging.”

KPA has tried a number of times in the past 10 years to design limits on what public agencies can charge the media and individuals for retrieving public records, but the legislation has often stalled in the either the House or Senate after passage in the other chamber.

“We’ll be asking our KPA and KAB members once again to provide us with examples of those times when charges for KORA request by cities, counties and others were prohibitively expensive,” Anstaett said, “and ended up blocking access.”

Members who have such “horror stories” should begin compiling that information for use when the legislative session kicks off in January.