Missouri’s Sunshine Law will undergo an update, but an effort to make it easier to prosecute violators has become a victim of the legislative process. Just how easy it would be to prosecute someone for violating the state open meetings and open records law became a hot topic of debate in the House. Several representatives protest an attempt to find someone guilty who is negligent, preferring the “knowing” standard. Representative Brian Yates (R-Lee’s Summit) says a negligent standard would scare volunteers away from serving on public boards. Others says volunteers shouldn’t be required to brush up on state law, a remark that sponsor Jack Goodman (R-Pierce City) finds to be misleading. Goodman insists the Sunshine Law in Missouri is short and easy to understand. He also notes the Attorney General’s office has published a pamphlet on it and will give free opinions to clarify points of the law. Goodman wins that round, but loses in a House-Senate conference committee. He says he agreed to strip it when Senate leaders told him the easier standard for prosecution would kill the bill in the Senate. The bill would apply the Sunshine Law to today’s technology, especially meetings conducted through the Internet and records relayed through e-mail. The bill has been sent to the governor.
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