Do you trust your government? The heart of democracy, "by the people, for the people", requires that government be accountable to it citizens. And, if there is no trust there, how can democracy flourish?
Trust, though, need not be blind faith. Policies, procedures and systems can help make government accountable. Open records laws often referred to as Sunshine Laws, are laws that promote transparency; requiring certain proceedings of government agencies to be open or available to the public.
The term sunshine law can be traced back to Florida's Government-in-the-Sunshine Law, which was enacted in 1967. While there were Public Records Laws before that, these Sunshine Laws expanded the scope of what is available to the public.
The Public Records Laws covered documents; at first, written materials; but later, expanded to tapes, photographs, film, sound recordings and computer files. With the Sunshine Laws (Chapter 119 of the Florida Statutes), any record made or received by any public agency in the course of its official business are available for personal inspection by any person, (unless specifically exempted by Florida Legislature).
Florida Sunshine Laws
119.01 General state policy on public records.—
Since Florida has enacted their Sunshine Laws, many other jurisdictions have enacted similar laws. Many have even named their laws as Sunshine Laws. Here is a partial list:
Missouri Sunshine Law
Subject to Chapter 610, Missouri Attorney General notes that, “the Sunshine Law applies to all records, regardless of what form they are kept in, and to all meetings, regardless of the manner in which they are held.” Government records on a non-government owned server (i.e. social media site) are subject to a Sunshine request, and legal discovery.
Ohio Sunshine Laws
Ohio has notably pro-access freedom of information laws. In Ohio Ohio’s Public Records and Open Meetings Laws, collectively known as the “Sunshine Laws,” give Ohioans access to government meetings and records – collectively known as “public records”. Ohio Revised Code (O.R.C.) 149.011 applies to and defines Open Records.
Hawaii Sunshine Law
Hawaii Sunshine Law legislates the methods by which public meetings and associated records are monitored and conducted.
New Mexico Sunshine Laws
New Mexico Sunshine Laws and provisions of access to public records, website and social media records can be found within the Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA) and the Open Meetings Act (OMA).
North Dakota Sunshine Laws
North Dakota Open Records Statute (N.D.C.C. §44-04-18 et seq.) and North Dakota Open Meetings Statute N.D.C.C. §44-04-19 et seq. govern open records in the State of North Dakota. These Sunshine Laws provide that all government records and meetings must be open to the public (unless a specific statute requires or authorizes a meeting or record to be closed).
Louisiana Sunshine Law
The Louisiana Public Records Act (La.R.S. 44:1 et seq.) and Louisiana Open Meetings Law La.R.S. 42:4.1 et seq.also known as Louisiana’s Sunshine Law govern social media and Open Records in the state of Louisiana, providing access to records for the public.
Here is a list of all
US State Open Records Laws
Open Records Laws by State
Click the map below to learn the details how Public Record Laws in your state.