New Kansas governor promises new open-government websites
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — New Gov. Jeff Colyer promised Thursday that Kansas will launch two new government accountability websites within the next four months as part of a larger effort to make the state more transparent.
Colyer issued four executive orders on transparency, following up on pledges he made during his first major policy speech the day before. The Republican governor signed the orders during a Statehouse news conference as representatives of the state’s Sunshine Coalition, Press Association and Association of Broadcasters stood behind him.
One order requires executive branch departments to set performance goals and develop ways to measure progress toward them so the information can be posted online. The order directs the state to launch a website posting the information within four months.
In another order , Colyer directed the state Department of Administration to set up a single website for posting notices of public meetings by executive branch departments, boards and commissions. His order said the site must be launched within three months.
“Transparency is the key to better accountability, and better accountability means real results for our Kansas citizens,” Colyer said during the news conference.
Colyer was formerly lieutenant governor and became the state’s chief executive last week, replacing former GOP Gov. Sam Brownback when Brownback took an ambassador’s post. Colyer has made a point of trying to set what he sees as a more open tone.
Another executive order issued Thursday prevents executive branch officials from using private email accounts to conduct public business — and Colyer signed a personal pledge to abide by the policy. His fourth order directs executive branch agencies to provide the first 100 pages of documents free of charge to Kansas residents making open records requests.
He also told reporters that he is willing to work with legislators on other transparency proposals, such as making police body camera footage more accessible and disclosing more information about economic incentives used to lure businesses to the state.
Rep. Stephanie Clayton, an Overland Park Republican who has advocated greater transparency, said she is pleased that Colyer is taking up the cause while acknowledging that she wonders about the cost of setting up the new websites and how it will be covered.
But Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat, suggested Colyer is interested in pursuing transparency issues to boost his bid for full, four-year term in a tough governor’s race this year.
“I think much of what Colyer will do as governor is political posturing,” Hensley said.
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