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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Mo. lawmakers argue they aren't subject to Sunshine Law

Missouri House Budget Committee Chairman Allen Icet initially refused to provide the AP with documents on how state agencies would handle potential 15, 20 and 25 percent budget cuts. He used the logic that the Sunshine Law applied to any "public governmental body;" he, individually, is not a "public governmental body." The documents, which were released, revealed the possibility that thousands of inmates and more than a hundred sexually violent predators would be released and that hundreds of people with HIV could be prevented from receiving medication.
They require others to comply with open-government laws. But Missouri legislators have exempted themselves from having to turn over documents they prefer to keep secret.

The Missouri House and Senate have interpreted the Sunshine Law not to apply to individual lawmakers - even though it does apply to the Legislature as a whole, legislative committees and legislative staff.

Whether that complies with the spirit of the Sunshine Law is questionable. Whether that is the correct interpretation of the law also is a matter of some dispute.

More here.

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