A Cole County Judge has heard arguments in a lawsuit brought by a liberal activist group against the Missouri Senate.
The Senate has asked Circuit Judge Jon Beetem to dismiss the suit filed by Progress Missouri, saying it has violated the state’s open records and meetings law by not letting that group make video recordings of hearings.
Jeremiah Morgan with the Attorney General’s Office, representing the Senate, said the state Constitution’s provision giving the houses of the general assembly the power to set the rules of their own proceedings allows Senate committee chairs to determine who can and who can’t record committee hearings. He said the Senate’s rules allow members of the Capitol Press Corps and the Senate’s communications staff record hearings, and Progress Missouri can get a copy of the communications’ recording.
Progress Missouri’s attorney, Christopher Grant, says his clients aren’t arguing that everyone must be allowed to record, but said the Senate is not consistent in how it applies its own rules and says communications doesn’t record every hearing. He cited a couple of hearings in the past session that Progress Missouri was denied permission to record, and communications didn’t record or didn’t record completely.
Grant argued that the Senate’s interpretation of the Constitution could allow it to write a rule to exempt itself from a law.
“I suppose under the Attorney General’s interpretation that the Senate could draft a rule that says no person can take notes at a meeting, or we’re only going to allow supporters of a bill at a meeting,” said Grant.
Beetem gave both sides 10 days to file any proposed orders they want him to consider.