TOPEKA - The Kansas Press Association Day at the Legislature fell on Thursday. Organized by KPA leadership, it provides newspaper editors and publishers an opportunity to travel to Topeka, network with, and meet en masse with legislators. Thursday, Great Bend Tribune Publisher Mary Hoisington and Managing Editor Dale Hogg were among the 50 members in attendance.
The day began early, with the group meeting at the north end of the capitol in advance of the Member Legislative Update. They then spent the morning moving around the Capitol, and sat in on the houses in action. They were recognized in the House in the morning and the Senate in the afternoon. .
Over lunch, they had the opportunity to network with Legislators.
“It is great to know that our lawmakers are so accessible,” Hoisington said. “We were able to talk over lunch and they were receptive. We talked to Sen. Mary Jo Taylor and Rep. Greg Lewis.” Rep. Tori Arnberger was home sick.
The afternoon concluded with a meeting in the auditorium where the membership held a debriefing session.
Hogg observed that a third of the House is freshman and there are 14 freshman in the Senate.
“It was a refreshing purge of many obstructionist lawmakers,” he said.
Bills that the KPA members have been watching so far this session and are in support of include SB 70, concerning the Kansas Open Meetings act and HB 2006, in favor of requiring special elections of rather than gubernatorial appointment of Board of County Commissioners in the event a county decides to expand the board.
Bills the KPA opposes are those that aim to add additional exceptions to the Kansas Open Records Act (KORA). They include HB 2070, which would close to public inspection the registry of law enforcement officers in the state, and HB 2128, allowing closed discussions of case reviews of the Governor’s Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board.
“The overall feeling among lawmakers and the journalists here today was that there is a much more cordial atmosphere this year,” Hogg said. “Legislators are get letting along better than in recent years.”