A revision of the state Sunshine Law is working its way through the legislature this final week of session, though the bill has been dimmed somewhat during House debate. The bill seeks to toughen Missouri’s open meeting and open records law. But Representative Randall Relford of Cameron objects to a provision leaving little wiggle room for those on city councils, school boards, public water boards and like public bodies who violate its provisions. He succeeds in amending the bill to fine boards and their members only if they KNOWINGLY violate the Sunshine Law. Relford also knocks down the maximum fine in the bill from $25,000 to $5,000. Representative Cindy Ostmann of St. Peters opposes the changes, telling the sponsor the current Sunshine Law belies its name. She calls it a “cloud” over volunteerism, keeping many people from serving on public boards. Yet sponsor Phil Smith of Louisiana has little sympathy for the argument, telling Ostmann they should weigh carefully obligations before deciding to serve. Revisions also will let public hospitals keep some records closed for a while as well as keep certain contracts under wraps. The revised measure now goes back to the Senate.
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