Missouri Sunshine Law would get stronger enforcement under new bill

JEFFERSON CITY— The Sunshine Law, Missouri’s open records law, could be getting a big boost through legislation discussed Monday in a state House hearing.

Missouri would join at least 15 other states in creating an official division that would not only enforce open records laws more strongly, but also provide guidance to the public and smaller government entities in navigating the Sunshine Law. Punishments for the law’s violations would be increased, too.

Two identical bills, sponsored by Rep. David Gregory, R-St. Louis, and Rep. Jean Evans, R-Manchester, would give the Missouri Attorney General’s Office subpoena power when enforcing the Sunshine Law on governmental public bodies.

Currently, the Attorney General’s Office has to rely heavily on the cooperation and willingness of the governmental body being investigated. The only way to encounter Sunshine Law violations is through a lawsuit, which could be costly, Gregory said.

“That’s wrong. We need to give the attorney general the power to investigate what he sees as wrongdoing and protect our people from their own government,” Gregory said. Read more…