Lawmakers discuss their concern about Kansas’ transparency issues

(KSNT Photo/Brian Dulle)

TOPEKA (CAPITOL BUREAU) – Addressing transparency at the capitol – that was the topic at a legislative forum in Topeka Thursday night.

Representative Jim Ward – who is running for Governor – said there are a number of bills this session lawmakers could pass to make the capitol more accessible to the public.

“We don’t have to wait for the process to work, we just need to put the bills on the floor and vote,” said Ward, D-Wichita.

Representative Jason Probst, a Democrat from Hutchinson, is carrying a bill this session to end the gut-and-go process. He says lawmakers on both sides of the aisle need to communicate better to pass legislation.

“Some of these good ideas don’t bubble to the surface because they have a block put on them,” said Probst, D-Hutchinson.

House Majority Leader Don Hineman pointed to examples when the gut-and-go process was used to pass pieces of legislation last session.

“It led to a vote on the House floor on Medicaid expansion, and it led to the adoption of ban on conceal and carry in hospitals,” explained Hineman, R-Dighton.

Democratic State Senator Laura Kelly, who is also running for Governor, said transparency is an issue across the board – not just in the legislature.

“The legislature has a lot of work to do and we can do that, but we also need to hold the executive branch accountable,” said Kelly, D-Topeka.

And when it comes eliminating anonymous bills, Senate President Susan Wagle explained she’s been working on that for two years.

“I have a bill in the Kansas Senate that requires a name to be on a bill and I signed on to that bill, so we’re not trying to hide anything,” she said.

Carrie Lancaster from Topeka said she attended the forum because she’s concerned and said she’d like to see lawmakers do away with the gut-and-go process.

“I still think we can do something better, I think we need a better tool,” Lancaster explained.

Legislative leaders in both houses say since there are multiple bills addressing transparency, they’re hopeful one will end up on the Governor’s desk.

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