September 15, 2008
Jefferson City, Mo. - A new booklet published online and in print by Attorney General Jay Nixon contains the latest changes to Missouri's open meetings and records law, popularly known as the Sunshine Law. The 80-page booklet is available at no charge to state and local officials, members of the media, and the general public. Printed copies of the booklet can be ordered through the Attorney General's Web site at ago.mo.gov or by calling the Attorney General's office at 1-800-392-8222; the booklet also may viewed on the Web site.
Since the printing of the last Sunshine Law booklet in 2006, the General Assembly passed a new law in 2008 that extends the sunset for two exceptions under the Sunshine Law allowing a public body to close certain meetings and records relating to homeland security.
"For 35 years, Missouri's Sunshine Law has helped ensure that citizens have access to the meetings and records of their government," Nixon said. "My office works on a daily basis with citizens, the media and government officials to provide education and mediation on Sunshine Law issues, and this booklet is an important part of that process."
In addition to containing the Sunshine Law in its entirety, the free 80-page booklet also provides a summary of the law; answers to frequently asked questions; a list of court decisions and Attorney General's opinions interpreting the Sunshine Law; and sample forms for government officials to use in posting meetings and for citizens or members of the media to request records.
Nixon's office has distributed hundreds of thousands of Sunshine Law booklets since 1993, including more than 25,000 in 2007, and each year provides training on the Sunshine Law for more than 1,000 state and local public officials. That number includes more than 300 state and local government officials who participated in a free, daylong seminar on government ethics that Nixon hosted in July.
Attorneys with the office also handle hundreds of request for information or mediation on the Sunshine Law on an annual basis. The office is able to successfully resolve the great majority of Sunshine Law complaints it receives without the need for litigation, but Nixon also has brought litigation in several cases that could not be resolved informally.