Senior Research Analyst
The Kansas Open Records Act (KORA) states it is the public policy of Kansas that all “public records shall be open for inspection by any person unless otherwise provided” (KSA 45-216).
Who is Covered by KORA?
KORA applies to all entities deemed to be “public agencies” (KSA 45-217), which includes the following organizations:
- The State;
- Any political or taxing subdivision of the State or any office, agency, or instrumentality thereof; and
- Any other entity receiving or expending, and supported in whole or in part by, the public funds appropriated by the State or by public funds of any political and taxing subdivisions of the State.
Additionally, KSA 45-240 requires all nonprofit entities, with the exception of health care providers, receiving public funds in excess of $350 per year to adhere to elements of open records requirements.
What Does KORA Require?
KORA allows for the inspection of all public records (KSA 45-218), as defined by law, by “any person” and that “suitable facilities shall be made available for each public agency for this purpose.” All public agencies are required to act upon an open records request no later than the third business day after the receipt of the request. If access to the requested records cannot be granted immediately, then the agency is required to provide a detailed explanation as to why the records are delayed and when the agency anticipates making them available to the requester.
Given that the provision of open records carries a financial cost to public agencies, KORA allows for public agencies to “charge and require advance payment of a fee for providing access to or furnishing copies of public records” (KSA 45-218).
KSA 45-219 elaborates further on the charging of fees by noting that “for inspection or for copies of a public records . . . each public agency may prescribe reasonable fees for providing access to or furnishing copies of public records.” The following guidance is then provided regarding the calculation of fees:
- Fees shall not exceed the actual cost of furnishing copies, including the cost of staff time;
- For digitally held records, fees shall include only the cost of any computer services, including staff time;
- Fees within the Legislative Branch shall be established in accordance with KSA 46-1207a;
- Fees within the Judicial Branch shall be established by the Supreme Court; and
- Fees within the Executive Branch shall be established by the heads of state agencies.
2022 SB 386
SB 386 (2022) was introduced by the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. The bill would have amended KORA regarding the determination and calculation of fees for open records requests. The bill received a hearing in the Senate Committee on Transparency and Ethics on February 14, 2022. During the hearing, proponent testimony stated that KORA currently allows for public agencies to charge excessive fees that are prohibitive to the purpose of KORA. Opponent testimony stated that, by limiting fees, agencies would be unable to recover the costs incurred to respond to requests.
Proponent, opponent, and neutral conferees proposed a variety of amendments to the bill, and the Senate Committee passed out an amended version of the bill on March 2, 2022. The bill died on General Orders in the Senate.