Kansas House passes partial open records bill; would open probable cause affidavits

41 Action News profiled issue in "The Dark State"

Kansas lawmakers have passed a bill opening some law enforcement records to its citizens.

Late Friday evening, the Kansas House passed a bill that would open probable cause affidavits to the public. Should Gov. Sam Brownback sign the bill into law, an act which he has indicated he will do, Kansas would join the rest of the country.

The issue was the focus of a 41 Action News investigation earlier this year , and countless editorials by newspaper writers across the state have also been written to fight for public access to records.

The records are currently sealed presumptively, forcing the public to seek their publication by legal means. The 41 Action News investigation profiled three families, some of who have spent thousands of dollars  in an effort to open records and find out what happened when it came to encounters with law enforcement .

One family has been fighting to learn how their relative died in a Kansas jail earlier this year.

In the bill's language, probable cause affidavits will be opened after a short period to allow prosecutors to redact confidential information. Search warrants won't be open to the public, but would be open to those whose businesses or residences were searched. If signed into law, the change is expected to go into effect on July 1.

Melissa Yeager and Karen Dillon contributed to this report.

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