Our Call: Sunshine Law should be enforced, not threatened

Our+Call%3A+Sunshine+Law+should+be+enforced%2C+not+threatened

Editorial

This newspaper will never compromise on the Sunshine Law. We don’t think our state legislators should either. It’s that simple.

The Sunshine Law is basic — public records belong to the public, whether government officials like that or not.

Yet last week saw a rollback in the Missouri House of the Sunshine Law so severe that one legislator called it “the most radical undermining of open records and transparency law in state history.” Lawmakers hoping to shield their own records from the public eye also closed nearly every public record produced by local government bodies too. And that’s a corrupt official’s dream, but a good government advocate’s nightmare.

As if this wasn’t shameful enough, the amendment’s sponsor, Rep. Nick Schroer, R-O’Fallon, said he didn’t even know what he’d done by inserting such broad language into the bill.

Yet he delighted in the critical media coverage, crowing that it got him featured “right above Donald Trump — I loved it.” He said any error could just be fixed by the Senate. Talk about a terrible way to govern this state and start the session.

A quick glance at Google seems to show that unfortunately, O’Fallon does not have a local newspaper to tell Schroer that this is against everything that those in favor of good government should stand for. So we’ll do it. His misguided amendment is nothing short of tragic for those interested in good government.

Just a few weeks ago, several of our very own south county state legislators voted to exempt themselves from the Sunshine Law. And this latest move is much worse.

In that column, we didn’t list the names of the local legislators who said that they shouldn’t have to follow the Sunshine Law. In this one, we will. Perhaps they didn’t think that we’d call them out if they continued to vote against transparency.

And for those already picking up their pens to call us a liberal rag, don’t bother. We endorsed most of these Republicans.

Rep. Jim Murphy, R-Oakville, 94th District

Rep. Michael O’Donnell, R-Oakville, 95th District

Rep. David Gregory, R-Sunset Hills, 96th District

Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, R-Arnold

And we applaud the local legislators who stood up for the Sunshine Law and for the people’s right to know:

Rep. Doug Beck, D-Affton

Rep. Sarah Unsicker, D-Shrewsbury