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Sunshine Law: Top 10 Points

Missouri Sunshine Laws were introduced in 1973, seven years after the Freedom of Information Act was passed in Congress in response to the Watergate scandal. Wildwood city officials will revisit the laws July 20 when investigating a city council member.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster's office shares the following tips via the state's website:

1.      When in doubt, a meeting or record of a public body should be opened to the public.

2.      The Sunshine Law applies to all records, regardless of what form they are kept in, and to all meetings, regardless of the manner in which they are held.

3.      The Sunshine Law allows a public body to close meetings and records to the public in some limited circumstances, but it almost never requires a public body to do so.

4.      A public body generally must give at least 24 hours' public notice before holding a meeting. If the meeting will be closed to the public, the notice must state the specific provision of the law that allows the meeting to be closed.

5.      Each public body must have a written Sunshine Law policy and a custodian of records whose name is available to the public upon request.

6.      The Sunshine Law requires a custodian of records to respond to a records request as soon as possible but no later than three business days after the custodian receives it.

7.      The Sunshine Law deals with whether a public body's records must be open to the public, but it generally does not state what records the body must keep or for how long. A body cannot, however, avoid a records request by destroying records after it receives a request for those records.

8.      The Sunshine Law requires a public body to grant access to open records it already has, but it does not require a public body to create new records in response to a request for information.

9.      When responding to a request for copies of its records, the Sunshine Law limits how much a public body can charge for copying and research costs.

10.  There are special laws and rules that govern access to law enforcement and judicial records.

To take a quiz on Missouri Sunshine Law, click here.

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