Kansas FOIA procedures
Each state varies slightly in the procedures used to gain access to public documents. This article serves to describe specifically the steps used in Kansas. To read the history and details of Kansas’s sunshine laws please see Kansas Open Records Act
How to request public records in Kansas
The act requires all public agencies to designate an official public records custodian. Records requests should be directed to this custodian. Agencies should be able to identify the custodian upon request and are required to aid anyone who submits a records request to someone other than the custodian within the department.
Purpose and use
While the law does not require an explicit statement of purpose, it does allow departments to reject records claims if it places "an unreasonable burden" on the department of if the department feels it is designed to disrupt the flow of the workings of government.
Kora does not permit the use of lists of names and addresses for commercial purposes outside of political and educational opportunities and the use of student lists by university sales offices.
Who may request public records?
"Any person" may inspect Kansas public records (subject to further provisions). This includes people who are not residents of the state.
- See also: How much do public records cost?
Fees "may" be charged for providing documents, however, no public agency is required to charge anything to the requestor. They may be charged and collected in advance of actually providing any records. Fees "shall not exceed the actual cost of furnishing copies, including the cost of staff time required to make the information available." If providing paper copies of records, $0.25 per page is deemed a reasonable fee. If providing computerized records, subscription/access fees may be applied, but they may not exceed the actual cost of production.
Some government offices will provide a copies of a small number of pages for free. In his training class about KOMA/KORA in June 2009, Assistant Attorney General Michael Six said the Attorney General's office will normally provide up to one hour of time, and up to 25 pages of copies for free.
The Kansas Secretary of State charges $0.50/page for most copies, but is usually willing to use both sides of the page, which reduces the effective cost to $0.25/copy.
Digital cameras can be used in some offices, e.g., the Johnson County Election Office, to copy documents for free, but one must still create a list of the documents copied.
In some southwest Kansas counties county clerks impose a fee of up to $25/day for copying documents using digital cameras.
- See also: Request response times by state
Requests for public records must be met within three business days of receiving the request, but should be acted on as soon as possible. If the request cannot be met immediately, a detailed explanation of the delay, and the earliest possible date that the records will be provided must be given to the requester.
There are at least 50 specific exemptions to the Kansas Open Records Act. To see a complete listing go here: Exemptions to the Kansas Open Records Act.
Requests for records may be denied if the custodian believes that the request is being made with the intent of interrupting the natural course of business. Requests may also be denied if the custodian believes that fulfilling it will place an unreasonable burden on the agency.
- Public Record: "any recorded information, regardless of form or characteristics, which is made, maintained or kept by or is in the possession of any public agency." Public Records do not include records owned by private persons or "employer records relating to the employer's individually identifiable contributions made on behalf of employees for workers' compensation, Social Security, unemployment insurance or retirement".
- Custodian: "any officer or employee of a public agency who is responsible for the maintenance of public records, regardless of whether such records are in the officer's or employee's actual personal custody and control."
- Business Day: any day other than a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday.
- Fee: Dollar amount that may or may not be charged for providing access to public records.
- Exemptions: Types of public documents that are specifically made exempt from the Open Records Act via further legislation.
- KORA 45-218.E
- KORA 45-230
- Statute 45-218 who may request?
- Statute 45-219 fees
- Attorney General Opinion 95-64 regarding fees for computerized records
- County ponders how to deal with photographing of public records, Dodge City Globe, May 23, 2008.
- Statute 45-218d response time
- Statute 45-218e failing to fulfill a request
- Open Government Guide What kind of records are covered?
- Statute 45-217 definitions
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