SB 858 -- Sunshine Law

Sponsor: Maxwell

This bill makes several changes to the law governing open records and open meetings. The bill:

(1) Clarifies that votes taken by a public body in a closed meeting regarding legal actions, the acquiring of real property, or personnel matters must be taken by roll call vote and the results of the vote be made public;

(2) Requires proof that the public body or one of its members "knowingly" violated the sunshine law, rather than "purposely" (Courts have interpreted the term "purposely" to require a higher degree of culpability than the standard term "knowingly.");

(3) Increases the maximum civil penalty for a violation of the Sunshine Law from $500 to $2,500; and

(4) Requires the court, in determining the amount of a fine, to factor in the size of the public body, the seriousness of the offense, and whether the public body has violated the Sunshine Law previously.