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Nov. 22, 2017
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Minutes for HB2070 - Committee on Judiciary

Short Title

Creating an exemption to the Kansas open records act for the central registry of Kansas police and law enforcement officers.

Minutes Content for Wed, Mar 15, 2017

Jason Thompson gave a brief on the bill saying the amendments by the House Committee create an exemption to the Kansas open records act (KORA) for the central registry of Kansas police and law enforcement officers.  He concluded by explaining what two statutes are amended by this bill.

Proponents:

Representative John Whitmer began his support (Attachment 5) of the bill by explaining that CPOST maintains records or keeps a central registry, that includes a Notice of Termination of Status Change Form for law enforcement officers. He said that the bill clarifies that the referenced form shall be treated as a criminal investigation record and shall not be disclosed.  Representative Whitmer explained that the current statute is explicit about how sharing of this information is to only be available to law enforcement agencies that appoint or elect officers.

Michelle Meier shared her support (Attachment 6) for HB 2070 by telling the Committee that the form protected by the bill was intended to be confidential and only used for other agencies. She explained that anyone can file a complaint with the CPOST, and the complaints do not have to be substantiated.  That complaint is then filed in their employee record.  If released to the public, it could have a negative implication for the officer and the agency they represent. She explained that the public can still find out who is a certified law enforcement officer, what training the officer has, misconduct information based on hearings, and revocation of certification of a law enforcement officer. She concluded by sharing her concerns about sharing the complaints.

The Committee discussed issues such as KORA requirements under Subsection 10 and the legal process to obtain information not provided, the process in which the bill was amended to its current form, and the decertification of officers.

The Chairman directed the Committee's attention to the written, proponent testimony, submitted by Ed Klumpp (Attachment 7), and moved on to the next order of business.

Opponents:

Brian Gregory shared his opposition (Attachment 8) to HB 2070 by first sharing about an investigation his company did in relation to the terminated police officers who were then immediately hired on by another department. He went on to explain key details of an investigation that he did in relationship to a Valley Center Police Officer Thomas Delgado, and the problems they had obtaining their KORA request without redaction. He concluded by saying that this bill is a step backwards in creating a more open and transparent legislature.

Questions as to transparency, public accessibility of records, and balance for protection of officers for false allegations were answered and discussed.

Max Kautsch shared his opposition (Attachment 9) to the bill saying that his position is primarily because the bill is unnecessary because it seems that it reiterates KORA. He said, that additionally it cites the wrong provisions of KORA as purported bases to deny disclosure. Mr. Kautsch then went on to propose an amendment that helps to strike a balance as discussed previously, and concluded that the bill, as it is, is not a solution for the public to ask the law enforcement agencies themselves for termination or change of status forms.

Questions regarding the proposed amendments were addressed. Seeing no further questions, Chairman Wilborn directed the Committee to the number of written, opponent testimonies from a variety of people: Kent Cornish (Attachment 10), Ron Keefover (Attachment 11), Mike Kautsch (Attachment 12), Doug Anstaett (Attachment 13), and Geoffrey Clark (Attachment 14).

Seeing no other questions, Chairman Wilborn closed the hearing.  Chairman Wilborn then postponed the hearings on HB 2197, HB 2301 and SB 216 for March 16, 2017 and adjourned the meeting at 11:55 AM.