Under Section 610.011, RSMo, of the Sunshine Law, “it is the public policy of this state that meetings, records, votes, actions, and deliberations of public governmental bodies be open to the public unless otherwise provided by law.” Missouri’s appellate courts have stressed this policy, noting that “The overarching purpose of the Sunshine Law is one of open government and transparency.” Laut v. City of Arnold, 417 S.W.3d 315, 318 (Mo. App. E.D. 2013).
Generally speaking, all public meetings and public records of public governmental bodies must be open and available to the public, and all public votes shall be recorded. However, in limited circumstances, public meetings and public records retained by public governmental bodies may (but are not required to be) closed. Most common reasons for authorizing closure of public meetings or public records are set forth in § 610.021, RSMo. Some examples of those reasons include privileged discussions with a body’s
lawyers or auditors, certain personnel matters, sealed bids until opened, social security numbers, and certain public safety, security system, and computer access information.