© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Kansas Legislature wraps another session of anti-transparency

Republican Kansas Senate President Ty Masterson.
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."

Stay Connected
When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
As senior producer of Up To Date, I want our listeners to hear familiar and new voices that shine light on the issues and challenges facing the myriad communities KCUR serves, and to expose our audiences to the wonderful and the creative in the Kansas City area. Just as important to me is an obligation to mentor the next generation of producers to ensure that the important conversations continue. Reach me at alexanderdk@kcur.org.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
Your donation helps keep nonprofit journalism free and available for everyone.