02/04/19 -- 0895H01.36H (Amendment HA1 to HA3 on HB 445) -- Negates the part of HA3 allowing confidential constituent records
Representative Nick Schroer (Republican - District 107) offered amendment 0895H01.22H to HB 445. That amendment allows members of the General Assembly to close records containing personal information, constituent case files, or documentation of their deliberative decision making process from disclosure under Missouri's Sunshine Law. I am very much in favor of those provisions, and even filed a bill with similar intentions earlier this session.
Unfortunately, Representative Jon Carpenter (Democrat - District 15) offered amendment 0895H01.36H during the perfection of HB 445 that negates the two most important parts of Representative Schroer's amendment: the parts that protect constituent case files and work product related to the deliberative process. While I do think there's an argument that allowing deliberative records to be sealed might be abused, it's also rather worrisome to force private strategy discussions related to legislation into the public eye. That said, I might have been willing to entertain the amendment had it simply removed that section. Instead, it also eliminated the most important provision: the one that allows members of the General Assembly to withhold documents or messages related to their private communication with their constituents.
As I have spoken about previously, it is of utmost importance that citizens be able to speak openly with their representatives without worry that their personal concerns or stories might find their way into the media. As a result, I voted no on this amendment. The amendment did fail (mostly along party lines). You can view the roll call vote here.