Senate sends school security bill back to House

For the past four months, emergency response and security plans for schools and other public buildings have been “open records” in the state, available for review by anyone who asks to see them, because the law that made that information a closed record expired last Dec. 31.

Bills intended to return those records to a “closed” status were filed at the beginning of the legislative session, and were said to be a legislative priority.

But, with only two weeks left in this year’s General Assembly, both bills still are waiting for the House and Senate to agree on the same language.

The House version, sponsored by Rep. Caleb Jones, R-California, on Thursday moved one step closer to becoming law, when the Senate made some minor changes to it and sent it back to the House to consider those changes.

“It’s critical that we keep those security records closed, for reasons that, unfortunately, have become so evident to us recently, in the last year or two,” Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, told colleagues Wednesday.

He explained the House bill had some differences from the Senate version, including permanently closing the security records instead of extending the “sunset” and, potentially, creating another issue for lawmakers in five years.

The House version also says “security cameras outside the governor’s office are not exempt from Sunshine requests,” Kehoe noted, and “flight logs for any state elected officials” are open records.

But, Kehoe noted Thursday morning, before the final vote, the House-passed bill “was not clear that it would be flight logs on state-owned aircraft,” so he added an amendment specifying the flight-log open records applied only “to a flight on a state-owned plane.”

Senators also approved an amendment clarifying that Kansas City’s 911 call center — which is operated jointly by the police and fire departments — can’t be required to release more information about a criminal investigation if the call was taken by a fire dispatcher than by a police employee.

The House must accept those changes, or seek a conference committee to work out differences in the versions, before the bill can be sent to Gov. Jay Nixon.

However, both chambers have approved the emergency clause, so the law would go into effect as soon as Nixon signs it.

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