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Kansas Legislature wraps another session of anti-transparency

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Jim McLean
/
Kansas News Service
Kansas Senate President Ty Masterson (R-Andover)

With a one-party majority and a bag of legislative tricks, Kansas lawmakers conceal much of their bill-making process.

A recent article in the Kansas Reflector detailed methods used in the Kansas Capitol to move legislation through both chambers withot a great deal of transparency.

These maneuvers include a tactic called "gut and go" that makes it difficult to track a bill's progress, scheduling hearings with little advance notice, and refusing to reveal who has been invited to address committees.

There are rules for the Kansas House and Senate, but as Tim Carpenter, senior reporter for the Kansas Reflector, points out, "when you get down to it, if you have enough votes you can just abandon all those rules. With enough votes you can do anything you want in the legislature."

The way Emporia State University political scientist Michael Smith sees it, "When you add layer upon layer of secrecy you can't help but think, 'I think this is deliberate.' I think they want to pass legislation before people find out what's in it."

Fellow political science professor Bob Beatty of Washburn University says if changes are to happen, "in a democracy it's up to the voters to make demands, otherwise there's not going to be much reaction."

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