There is every indication, however, that virtually all public officials are aware of the Sunshine Law and its requirements. Most public officials are members of statewide associations -- Missouri Municipal League, Missouri Association of Counties, Missouri School Boards Association, Missouri Association of School Administrators -- that offer Sunshine Law training and have the resources to provide adequate guidance to their members.
The Missouri attorney general's office also provides Sunshine Law workshops for public officials. Last year more than 1,500 public officials attended these workshops. Requiring every public official in the state to undergo such training would involve tens of thousands of individuals.
Last year, the attorney general's office received 239 Sunshine Law inquiries, which were handled by three lawyers in the AG's office. About half those inquiries were concerns about potential violations.
Even if the logistics of providing training to thousands of public officials in a timely way could be overcome, it seems more practical to put the emphasis on enforcement of the Sunshine Law. Anecdotal experience indicates most suspected violations aren't due to lack of training but, rather, are a result of a lack of potential enforcement. Public officials know that, in most cases, their cavalier regard for the Sunshine Law won't result in any penalties.
If strong penalties were to be put in place for Sunshine Law violations, I have no doubt we would see a new era of open government in this state.