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Government

Kansas City Star Documents Secretive Kansas Government

statehouse_by_dan_skinner.jpg
Dan Skinner
/
Kansas Public Radio/File photo

A new report in the Kansas City Star is once again raising concerns about a lack of transparency in Kansas state government.

The Star article details a growing list of claims about secrecy under Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and recriminations against those who speak out, from the firing of an agency spokesperson for acknowledging the state’s budget problems, to pressuring the father of a child who died in state custody to sign a “gag order.”

Concerns are also raised about the widespread practice of officials withholding documents and using secret meetings and private emails to circumvent transparency laws.

Benet Magnuson has been sounding the alarm since helping to launch the Open Kansas initiative in 2016.

“It’s become more and more challenging for Kansans to access public information and participate in our democracy," Magnuson says.

The effort has so far struggled to gain momentum. But it could be a priority for more lawmakers heading into the 2018 campaign.

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Jim McLean is managing director of KMUW's Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KMUW, Kansas Public Radio and KCUR covering health, education and politics in Kansas. Follow him on Twitter @jmcleanks.