Kan. sec of state puts records access online

JOHN MILBURN
April 17, 2012

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Monday he had completed work on two projects aimed at improving access to state records, keeping his office efficient and promoting knowledge of democracy in Kansas.

Kobach said that more than 2 million records are now available online for review by the public, attorneys, businesses and the media. He said the process to improve access was started under his predecessor Ron Thornburgh, a fellow Republican.

"It's hard to overstate what a big deal this is," Kobach said. "This has been a long time coming."

Kobach said the secretary of state's office receives an average of 454 required business documents each day.

Previously, the only ways to view documents was to request a copy to be mailed or to go to the secretary of state's office in Topeka and obtain copies in person. Limited amounts of information were available online other than the business name and if it was in good standing with the state.

Businesses based in Kansas must file annual reports with the secretary of state's office. Companies and nonprofit groups also must file their articles of incorporation and register an agent with the office.

Many lending transactions also require creditors to file a statement with the secretary of state, who then maintains a database of the personal property used to back loans.

The online system was developed using existing secretary of state staff during regular business hours, Kobach said.

Kobach also created an online portal for civics education geared to public and home-schooled students.

During his 2010 campaign, Kobach said he was troubled by the lack of knowledge that most Kansans had about state government and democracy in general. He directed his staff to develop a site that gives an overview of how Kansas became a state, what a constitution is, the three branches of government and their functions and information about the counties.

It also has a downloadable quiz that teachers can give to students.

"I think it's important to give material that's immediately useful," said Kobach, a former constitutional law professor.