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Government

Advocates Push For Changes To Kansas Open Records Act

Statehouse_by_SK.jpg
Bryan Thompson
/
Kansas News Service/File photo

Public records advocates are pushing state legislators to bring the Kansas Open Records Act more in line with open record laws in other states.

The Lawrence Journal-World reports changes to the police records portion of the law are supported by Harold and Alberta Leach, the Kansas Press Association, the Kansas Association of Broadcasters and the Kansas Sunshine Coalition for Open Government.

The Leaches feel authorities were secretive about the investigation of their teenage son's 1988 disappearance. Randy Leach went missing from a graduation party along with the family's car.

"Over 27 years, there have been so many different tales and nothing was checked out totally," Alberta Leach said.

The couple learned last year that law enforcement had a suspect in the 1990s. They requested to see investigation records, but the Leavenworth County Sheriff's Office and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation refused to release them to the Leaches.

State Rep. John Rubin said he will hold hearings at the Capitol, possibly in January or February, to receive input from the public, prosecutors and law enforcement with the hope of drafting a bill to correct some problems with the law.

Rubin, a former federal administrative judge and chairman of the House corrections and juvenile justice committee, said situations like the one the Leaches face influenced his decision to hold hearings.

"That's certainly why I'm interested in conducting hearings and looking further into it. I want to more carefully refine those circumstances under which police investigatory records and reports are going to be exempt to disclosure to avoid abuses. This is an issue that continues to be of significant importance to me," he said.

The Legislature passed a bill two years ago that Rubin crafted to make available the reasons why police arrest someone or search a home.