Saturday, February 16, 2019

Kansas City Democrat: HB 445 guts Sunshine Law, local officials could keep virtually all records secret

(From Rep. Ingrid Burnett, D-Kansas City)

On February 7, the Republican-majority approved legislation intended to strengthen ethics rules for local government officials, and then amended it to eviscerate Missouri’s open records law!

HB 445 passed out of the House 103-47 to advance to the Senate. It was another “Catch 22” for supporters of the original version like me.

Hopefully, the provisions weakening the Sunshine Law will be removed in the Senate.

HB 445 started with wide bipartisan support. It would have imposed a two-year waiting period on local officials becoming lobbyists and capped gifts from lobbyists to local officials at $5 – requirements recently imposed on lawmakers by a constitutional amendment Missouri voters overwhelmingly approved last year.

But then, State Rep. Nick Schroer, R-O’Fallon, added an amendment to broadly expand statutory exemptions that allow certain records to be withheld under the Sunshine Law. Under the amendment, government officials would have legal authority to keep virtually all records secret.

Why… One would think that they are trying to rewrite the Clean Missouri Amendment One that voters overwhelmingly just passed!

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