Kansas Senate harasses the press

Media presence is no longer allowed on the floor of the Senate, instead it's been relegated to the balcony. That's a loss for transparency and ultimately affects our democracy.

By

Columnists

January 14, 2022 - 1:15 PM

The empty desk that news reporters have traditionally sat at on the Kansas Senate floor was empty on Monday, the first day of the 2022 legislative session. Reporters were told they must sit in the balcony. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

During my eight years as president of the Kansas Senate, I had frequent dealings with journalists who covered the Statehouse.

It wasn’t always easy. Journalists ask tough questions, and they often make their sources uncomfortable. But I knew I had an obligation to accommodate their questions and requests for information because I very much respected the role of journalists in our democracy.

Kansas Senate leadership now is restricting press access. Instead of allowing journalists on the Senate floor during the legislative session, they have been relegated to the gallery, where it would be much more difficult to closely observe the interactions, pick up on nuances and get a good feel for the direction of the debate.

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