JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri House is moving forward with a bill that will apply the voter-approved ethics standards members of the General Assembly abide to local government officials.
On Monday evening, members of the House perfected HB 445, put forth by Rep. Shamed Dogan, which deals with ethics and penalty provisions.
The measure takes the changes made by Amendment 1, the so-called Clean Missouri Amendment, and applies them to local government officials.
Any member of a governing body of a political subdivision would be restricted from acting, serving, or registering as a lobbyist for two calendar years after they have left the position. The campaign contribution limits for those individuals would also be lowered to the same level approved for the General Assembly in November.
Local government officials and their staff would also be prohibited from accepting gifts from lobbyists in the excess of $5 per lobbyist per day.
An amendment added by Rep. Nick Schroer initiated a debate on the ins and outs of the Sunshine Law.
Schroer’s amendment to the bill would allow local governments to keep “constituent case files” from being accessible to an open records request. Records with a member of a public governmental body consisting of advice, opinions, and recommendations in connection with the deliberative decision-making process would also be exempt.
“We’re not going to have to turn over virtually anything,” said Rep. Jon Carpenter. He argued that it undermined the purpose of the Sunshine Law.
Supporter argued that they were fighting to protect the privacy of their constituents and that average Missourians shouldn’t be subject to have their names and beliefs printed in news articles.
The amendment was added by a voice vote.
Rep. Gina Mitten added an amendment to the measure that would ban all public officials and employees from using encrypted messages to conduct public business on any device.
Alisha Shurr is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine. She joined the Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University. Contact Alisha at firstname.lastname@example.org.