Missouri Sunshine Coalition Educates Citizens on Sunshine Laws

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COLUMBIA - The Missouri Sunshine Coalition hosted a government transparency forum at the University of Missouri School of Journalism on Thursday evening.

This event was held in celebration of national Sunshine week with the intent to promote the importance of an open government and freedom of information. Moreover, the forum educated citizens on how they can hold government officials accountable.

"We're building a tradition here to recognize Sunshine Week and build on our efforts to educate people about open meetings and records," Jim Robertson, President of the Missouri Sunshine Coalition said. 

The sunshine laws require certain government information to be available to the public. A refresher of these laws is especially important during a presidential election year.

"It's a good time not only to talk about election laws and campaign finance disclosures, but to talk about other aspects of open records. In this kind of atmosphere, people may listen a little more closely and may be more interested," Robertson said.

The coalition also recognized Galina and Mitchell Davis as Sunshine Heroes during the forum. They successfully challenged a St. Louis Police Department policy, which charged approximately $6 to view a daily accident report. Their lawsuit led to a court ruling in 2011, stating the public has a right to inspect accident reports at no cost.

The Missouri Sunshine Coalition is a nonprofit founded in 2009 to advocate openness and transparency in government at all levels. The coalition is part of the National Freedom of Information Coalition.