- Cape student sues, accuses school officials of slamming her to ground multiple times (04/28/16)45
- Bob Evans restaurant in Cape Girardeau among chain's 21 closings (04/26/16)9
- Missouri House votes to allow concealed weapons without permits (04/28/16)6
- Two hurt in motorcycle wreck on Interstate 55 (04/25/16)1
- Law firm requests information about Cape's traffic cameras (04/25/16)2
- Local lawmakers split over failed medical marijuana bill; voters may have a say (04/26/16)19
- Police report filed, but no charges in incident at Cape Central (04/29/16)35
- Tanker truck catches fire near Oak Ridge (04/24/16)7
- Local company makes eco-friendly kitty litter that cuts cat-box smell (04/25/16)
- Senator introduces bill for I-57 that would connect Sikeston with Little Rock (04/28/16)4
The (Independence, Mo.) Examiner
Gov. Bob Holden on Monday signed Sunshine Law improvements. The provisions, although modest, are overdue and badly needed. This is the law that governs Missouri's public meetings and public records, at the state and local levels. The changes:
Higher potential fines, up to $5,000, for violations of the law.
Limits on fees charged for copies of public records.
Making it clear, as if there was even a question, that meetings of public bodies held over the phone, over the Internet or by video conference are public meetings. Notice of such meetings must be given.
Making it clear that the public has the right to record -- with audiotape or videotape -- public meetings.
Making e-mails exchanged among a majority of most public boards open to the public.
This is all catch-up stuff. Missouri still lags behind other states in holding public officials accountable for the openness of their actions. As a series of state audits has shown in recent years, most state and local agencies lack even a basic understanding of the law, including its fundamental idea that the public's business is always presumed to be open, limited only by a handful of specific exceptions. Too many agencies still act as if it were the other way around -- and get away with it.