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Records would be closed permanently

Records would be closed permanently

March 26th, 2013 in News

No one testified Monday night against a House-passed bill that would restore "closed records" status to the security plans for schools and other public buildings.

Because lawmakers several years ago placed a "sunset" on that provision, then failed to get previous proposals to keep them closed to the public into the law books, those plans since Jan. 1 have been "open records" under Missouri's Sunshine Law.

Gov. Jay Nixon and legislative leaders said re-closing the records was a priority for this session.

But, almost 11 weeks after the General Assembly began its 2013 session, neither the House nor Senate bills proposing to make the information a closed record have been debated by the other chamber - even though both were passed by the originating chamber on Feb. 14.

Rep. Caleb Jones, R-California, presented his version - that was combined with two other House bills - to the Senate's Judiciary and General Jurisprudence Committee Monday.

"I'm confident we will get this passed through the House and Senate," Jones told the News Tribune after Monday night's hearing.

Jones reminded the committee his bill and Kehoe's began with the same language.

"As it progressed through the House, there were some amendments added on to it," Jones told senators, including one making the closing of the security plan records permanent, rather than placing another sunset that would have to be debated in the future.

Another amendment makes an open record of "video from cameras outside the governor's office in the Capitol," Jones said, and the House-passed bill "exempts security systems and access codes of real property," which might be included in a police report that is a public record.

Jones said the House also added an amendment making most "records or flight logs pertaining to any flight or request for a flight after such flight has occurred by any elected member of either the executive or legislative branch" an open record.

Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, noted he had proposed keeping the school and public building security records closed "before it ever expired ... going on four years."

But Schaefer's proposal always was part of a larger bill making other changes in the Sunshine Law that "unfortunately, we couldn't get" passed.

Schaefer got senators to support his other changes as an amendment to Kehoe's version of the school security measure during the February debate on that bill - but it hasn't been assigned to a House committee, yet.

Supporters of the plan to re-close the security records included the state Public Safety Department and the Missouri School Boards, School Administrators, Police Chiefs and Press associations.

Mike Reid, the MSBA's lobbyist, noted having the security plans as open records "just puts students in harm's way, and it's just not necessary."