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Missouri Attorney General

AG opinions regarding Missouri Sunshine law

Below are summaries of Attorney General Opinions regarding the Sunshine Law. Please note that the law cited may have been amended, especially for older opinions. Opinions issued since 1997 are available online. To learn more about Attorney General opinions and how to obtain a copy of an opinion, visit our Opinions page.

Opinion No. 18-81
Once a public governmental body has properly voted to close a meeting, all members of the general public should be removed from the meeting. The governmental body cannot discriminate in which members of the public it might wish to remove or allow to stay.
Note: The case of Smith v. Sheriff, 982 S.W.2d 775 (Mo. App. E.D. 1998), recognizes that a body may allow certain members of the public into a closed meeting to provide information to the body.
Opinion No. 67-87
The Student Government Association of Southwest Missouri State University is not generally considered a public governmental body subject to the Sunshine Law, although the Sunshine Law may be applicable to the Student Government Association under certain circumstances.
Opinion No. 103-88
The Missouri School Boards Association is a “quasi-public governmental body” and subject to provisions of Chapter 610, RSMo, the Sunshine Law.
Opinion No. 89-89
If a public governmental body retains copies of records of the information set out in Section 290.290, RSMo, 1986, they are public records and must be made available for inspection and copying pursuant to Section 610.023.
Opinion No. 184-89
Section 610.021(3) does not authorize a city’s governing body to close a meeting when considering appointments of volunteers to citizen boards.
Opinion No. 78-90
The circuit clerk, prosecuting attorney and circuit judge are not required to release to the media and public the names of members of a grand jury.
Opinion No. 97-90
Pursuant to Section 610.022.2, notice of a closed meeting of a public governmental body must include the time, date and place of the meeting and a reference to the specific statutory exception allowing the meeting to be closed; however, notice of a closed meeting is not required to include a tentative agenda.
Opinion No. 117-91
Property record cards prepared and retained by a county assessor are public records, to be made available for inspection and copying as provided in Section 610.023.
Opinion No. 77-92
For purposes of 610.021(3) and (13), an elected mayor and elected city council members are not employees of a city; a city clerk and finance director, who are appointed and are paid, are employees; and members of a citizen board, who are appointed but not paid, are not employees.
Opinion No. 80-93
Records relating to permits to acquire a concealable firearm retained by a county sheriff as required by Section 571.090.5, RSMo Supp. 1992, are public records open to inspection.
Note: Missouri’s concealed-carry law contains its own confidentiality provisions (Section 571.101.9, RSMo Supp. 2003).
Opinion No. 192-94
Telephone billing records of an individual member of the General Assembly are public records as defined by Section 610.010(6), RSMo Supp. 1993, to be made available for inspection and copying as provided in Sections 610.023 through 610.026, RSMo Supp. 1993.
Opinion No. 68-95
Reference to the number of the relevant subdivision in Section 610.021’s list of exceptions to openness (for example, Section 610.021(1)) is sufficient to meet the requirement of Section 610.022, which requires a public body to announce the reason for closing a meeting. A recitation of the words in the relevant subdivision is not required.
Opinion No. 151-95
Citizens are authorized to videotape city council meetings if the taping is not obtrusive, based on the policy set out in Section 610.011.
Note: Section 610.020.3 has since been revised to expressly permit taping of open meetings.
Opinion No. 158-95
Pursuant to sections 610.105 and 610.120, a city auditor does not have authority to inspect municipal court records of dismissed or nolle prossed cases. They may only be inspected by the entities listed in Section 610.120.
Opinion No. 106-96
Pursuant to sections 79.200 and 610.120, a mayor may review an appointed city prosecutor’s past prosecution record because the mayor is from a “law enforcement agency” and the review is related to “criminal justice employment.”
Opinion No. 82-97
If a city council member is absent from a meeting that is closed pursuant to Section 610.021(3), the council member should have access to the minutes from the closed portion.
Opinion No. 129-97
The vote of each school board member must be available to the public on votes to hire, fire, discipline or promote particular employees in a closed meeting pursuant to Section 610.021(3). But the information considered during the closed meeting and before the actual vote is taken does not have to be disclosed.
Opinion No. 153-98
A request for a public record to be provided in a format other than paper, in this case microfilm, must be honored if the public governmental body is able to reproduce the record in that format.
Note: Section 610.023.3 has since been amended to require that if records are requested in a certain format, and that format is available, the public body shall provide the records in the requested format.
Opinion No. 97-2000
A public governmental body may decide in closed session pursuant to Section 610.021(2), RSMo, to enter into a contract that includes an option to purchase real estate at a particular price if the consideration for that contract could be affected by discussions in open sessions. However, within 72 hours of its decision the public governmental body must make public any minutes, votes or records relating to its decision.
Note: Section 610.021(2) has since been amended to require disclosure of minutes, votes and records upon execution of the lease, purchase or sale.
Opinion No. 235-2000
The board of aldermen may review a city employee’s personnel file if it is necessary to care, manage or control the city. The authority may be delegated through resolution or ordinance to one or more members of the board.
Opinion No. 255-2000
Provisions of the Sunshine Law apply to a board of visitors created by Section 221.320, RSMo.
Opinion No. 274-2000
The Sunshine Law requires disclosure of the race of the arrested person and the arrest location if that information is contained in the arrest report and the arrest report is not closed under the Sunshine Law.
Opinion No. 95-2001
The names, addresses and water bills of customers of a public water supply district are records subject to disclosure under Chapter 610, RSMo. This does not apply to other information such as Social Security numbers.
Opinion No. 100-2001
A sheltered workshop established by a nonprofit corporation is a quasi-public governmental body and its financial records are subject to provisions of Chapter 610, RSMo.
Opinion No. 106-2001
The board of jury commissioners is a public governmental body and when it performs its duties pursuant to Chapter 494, RSMo, it is acting in an administrative role. Since the board of jury commissioners is a public governmental body, it is not exempt from the Sunshine Law, and if it retains the qualified jury list or prospective jury list, the board of jury commissioners is responsible for providing copies if requested under Chapter 610, RSMo.
Opinion No. 117-2001
A city council with a city manager form of government may go into closed session to discuss personnel matters involving any city employee.
Opinion No. 168-2001
When the securities commissioner or Department of Insurance makes a proper request for information about a financial institution, the Division of Finance may provide the information, which otherwise would be prohibited from disclosure, pursuant to Section 610.032 without a court order.
Opinion No. 37-2003
Section 211.321 requires that, with certain exceptions, those portions of juvenile court records and law enforcement records identifying juveniles must be kept confidential. So if a law enforcement record involving a juvenile would otherwise be an open record, the law enforcement agency responding to a request for that record should redact identifying information about the juvenile and release the remainder of the record.
Opinion No. 126-2003
The Sunshine Law requires an election authority to release a record of voter registration information to a newspaper and to provide a copy in CD-ROM format if available.
Opinion No. 143-2003
A citizen’s advisory committee is a public governmental body and records of communications from members of the committee or city staffers to a private consultant are public records. The city is obligated to retrieve public records it has given to a private consultant and make the records accessible to the public.
Opinion No. 129-2004
A task force appointed by a school district superintendent for the purpose of making budget proposals to the superintendent is a public governmental body and therefore task force meetings are subject to the Sunshine Law.
Opinion No. 83-2009
Meetings held between a city and a local firefighters union to negotiate a memorandum of understanding pursuant to Section 105.520 can be closed pursuant to Sections 610.010 through 610.035. However, when the written proposals are subject to adoption, modification or rejection by the governing body, the meeting no longer can be closed.
Opinion No. 93-2012
A public governmental body is authorized to close personally identifiable personnel records and records pertaining to employees, which would include pension database records. The only exception to this allowance is that records of the name, position, salary, and length of service of public employees may not be closed. Accordingly, information in the records consisting of the names and payments to public employees must be disclosed, but the rest may remain closed.
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