March 8, 2007
Jefferson City, Mo.— Public officials who hold meetings that are open to the public and ensure that public records are made available are crucial to the well-being of good government, Attorney General Jay Nixon said today. Central to this standard of openness in government, Nixon said, is Missouri's Open Meetings and Records Law, commonly known as the Sunshine Law. The week of March 11-17 marks Sunshine Week 2007 across the country.
“Officeholders, boards, agencies and organizations that are covered by the Sunshine Law should always strive to keep the public's business public,” Nixon said. “My office has taken an active role to ensure compliance with the Sunshine Law, while providing guidance and training about the law on a regular, ongoing basis.”
Last December, the directors of the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA) paid $1,000 each in a settlement with Nixon to resolve a Sunshine Law suit brought by the Attorney General. Nixon had alleged that members of the MOHELA board violated the law during meetings in January 2006.
Nixon said that his office held a highly successful Ethics in Government seminar on Jan. 9 in Jefferson City in part to train local officials on the Sunshine Law, an event that attracted 370 attendees from throughout the state. During 2006, attorneys from Nixon's office held additional training sessions around the state to educate more than 1,000 public officials. Assistant attorneys general also took 484 inquiries last year from local government officials, citizens and members of the media with questions or concerns about open meetings or records. Of those inquiries, some were questions about the Sunshine Law that were answered by staff; some were concerns that were mediated by Nixon's office.
Another educational tool produced by the Attorney General's Office is a free 80-page booklet on the Sunshine Law, an updated of version of which was published in August 2006. The booklet is updated periodically to reflect changes in Missouri's law, new court decisions pertaining to the Sunshine Law, and new legal opinions issued by the Attorney General's Office on the Sunshine Law. Since last August, Nixon's office has distributed more than 19,000 copies of the booklet; copies may be obtained by calling 1-800-392-8222. The online version of the booklet also is frequently viewed and downloaded.
Download Missouri Sunshine Law booklet, pdf format
Take the Attorney General's Sunshine Law Quiz