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33 U. Kan. L. Rev. 205 (1984-1985)
Letting the Sunshine in: An Analysis of the 1984 Kansas Open Records Act

handle is hein.journals/ukalr33 and id is 207 raw text is: The University of
Kansas Law Review
LETTING THE SUNSHINE IN: AN ANALYSIS OF
THE 1984 KANSAS OPEN RECORDS ACT
Ted P. Frederickson*
A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of ac-
quiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both.
Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be
their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge
gives.
James Madison'
I. INTRODUCTION: FROM A CLOSED RECORDS ACT TO AN OPEN RECORDS ACT
When the Kansas Open Records Act2 took effect January 1, 1984, citizens
gained guaranteed access for the first time to the vast majority of records kept
by government, from the smallest sewer districts to the largest state agencies.
The law marked a fundamental policy change in favor of citizen access to gov-
ernmental records, a significant departure from a previous records law more
aptly described as a Closed Records Act.
* Assistant Professor of Journalism, William Allen White School of Journalism, University of
Kansas. B.A. 1970, J.D. 1975, University of North Dakota; M.A. 1971, The American University.
The author expresses his appreciation for research assistance provided by Robert L. Teel and
Ward Stauffer, third year law students at the University of Kansas. The research was supported by
a University of Kansas New Faculty Research Grant.
Letter from James Madison to W.T. Barry (Aug. 4, 1822), reprinted in 9 G. HuNT, THE WRIT-
INGS OF JAMES MADISON 103 (1910).
' Act of May 6, 1983, ch. 171, 1983 Kan. Sess. Laws 997; Act of Feb. 2, 1984, ch. 187, 1984 Kan.
Sess. Laws 969. The 1983 bill that established the Kansas Open Records Act was properly enacted
by the legislature during the 1983 session. However, one phrase was dropped inadvertently from
the version signed by the governor, which clouded the legal status of the legislation. The 1984
Legislature repealed the 1983 statutes and re-enacted the bill with the missing words included.
Kansas City Times, Jan. 12, 1984, at B2, col. 2. Citations in this article will refer to the version re-
enacted in the 1984 session, KAN. STAT. ANN. §§ 45-215 to -225 (Supp. 1984).
3 See Minutes of the House Federal and State Affairs Committee (Feb. 22, 1983) (statement of

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