SB 0685 Revises the Sunshine Law
LR Number:2655S.03I Fiscal Note:2655-03
Committee:Financial and Governmental Organization
Last Action:02/11/02 - Hearing Conducted S Financial & Governmental Org., Journal page:
Veterans Affairs & Elections Committee
Effective Date:August 28, 2002
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Current Bill Summary

SB 685 - This act revises various provisions relating to public records. When investigating a death, the coroner's or medical examiner's office shall make certain information available as an incident report within 72 hours of death. The act defines a public governmental body to specifically include the Curators of the University of Missouri, as well as a Bi-State Development Agency.

Currently, any votes taken during a closed meeting shall be by roll call. The act extends this requirement to open meetings as well, except for votes on procedural or ministerial matters. Meetings relating to legal actions, imminent causes of action or litigation involving a public governmental body may be closed. Any vote regarding leasing or purchasing of real estate shall be made public upon execution of the lease or sale.

Currently, salaries and length of service of employees of public agencies may not currently be closed. The exception allowing confidential communications with the auditor of a public governmental body to be closed shall not include any completed audit report. The act provides a method for any member to record an objection to closing the meeting. The act requires production of public records. Fees for copying shall not exceed the amounts charged for copies by the Secretary of State.

A public governmental body shall cooperate if the Attorney General attempts to resolve a written complaint. In determining compliance, the Attorney General shall be entitled to copies of records, excepts those of privileged communications. Records identified by the public body as closed shall remain so, except that the Attorney General may use such records in a court proceeding to enforce compliance.

The penalty for any violation shall range from $0 to $2,500, but shall not be more than 5 percent of the body's total annual budget. If the court finds there was a knowing violation, the court may order the payment of attorney's fees and costs. Currently, any person may request a law enforcement agency to open incident reports and arrest records that are unlawfully closed. If the court finds there was any violation, the same penalties listed above apply.

In a criminal proceeding where no conviction results, the court's judgment or order or the final action taken by the prosecuting attorney may be accessed. The act deletes the provision prohibiting law enforcement from releasing accident or incident report to any person who is not an interested party for 60 days.

The act is similar to the perfected SB 375 (2001).