- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 3, 2016

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas lawmakers are pledging support for a bill that would open up private emails sent by public employees about government business.

The Wichita Eagle (https://bit.ly/1StB7u4 ) reports that the bill would make information made by an employee of a public agency concerning business available to a Kansas Open Records Act request regardless of “form, characteristics or location.”

The addition of “location” comes after Gov. Sam Brownback’s budget director used a private account last year to email lobbyists a draft of the governor’s proposed budget before lawmakers saw it. The new bill would apply to employees who conduct government business on private email accounts.

“I don’t think, as a matter of public policy, that it’s appropriate to be able to avoid the requirements of (the Kansas Open Records Act) merely by using a different means of communication,” Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday.

The Kansas Association of Broadcasters and the Kansas Press Association also voiced support for the bill. There was no opposition.

Lawmakers also considered an additional bill, which would change the Kansas Open Meetings Act and require county or city government officials to provide more information about why they chose to close a meeting to the media and public.

Under the bill, officials would have to describe the specific subject of the meeting and justify why it would need to be closed.

Most speakers voiced support for the bill, but representatives of the League of Kansas Municipalities and the Kansas Association of Justice worried that vague language would lead to confusion and potential lawsuits.

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Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, https://www.kansas.com

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