The Brown & Crouppen Legal Lens takes a closer look at everyday legal issues and gives you a better understanding of topics that may affect you.

ST. LOUIS – Missouri adopted a “sunshine law” in 1973, nearly seven years after the United States established the Freedom of Information Act, putting the Show Me State at the forefront of the fight for transparency regarding the public’s right to know about the doings of government and non-government entities.

There’s been plenty of news lately with St. Louis City and County meeting or failing to meet the Missouri Sunshine Law. Andrea McNairy, managing attorney at Brown & Crouppen, explains further in this week’s Legal Lens.

According to McNairy, the Sunshine Law applies to public hearings, laws, and deliberations.

“It covers any federal non-governmental entity. It also creates every entity that the state constitution or statutes or local rules make. It can also cover subcommittees that are run by those groups or even non-governmental entities that are working for the public good in conjunction with the government,” she said.

You have a right to request, see, or have copies of things that fall under that law, McNairy says. You’ll have to pay for the work it takes to get those copies made, with some exceptions.

“If it’s for personal use, most of the time for members of the public, you can ask for copying fees to be waived,” she said.

What can somebody do if they feel the sunshine law isn’t being followed?

“The (Missouri) Attorney General has right to investigate any complaint that governmental entities are not following sunshine law request,” McNairy said. “So if you go on (the AG’s) website, there is a complaint form you can fill out.”