Sunshine law

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(Redirected from Government in the sunshine)

A sunshine law requires that a government makes its information and procedures available for inspection by the public, metaphorically letting the sun shine on the activities of government. It is sometimes called a government-in-the-sunshine law. A freedom of information act is a common type of sunshine law.

Specific laws may require that all government meetings be open to the public, or that written records be released upon request. The usual intent of these laws is to enable citizens to examine government activity to detect political corruption, or to allow them to have input into government decisions that affect them. Most liberal democracies have some form of sunshine law.

The United States

In the United States, both state and federal sunshine laws are on the books.

The first open records law was passed in Wisconsin shortly after it became a state in 1848. All of the other states have a similar law that requires the release of information held by the state government. Florida was the first state to pass an open meetings law in 1967. While all of the other states also have such a law, their exact provisions vary; 41 states require advance notice of meetings, 37 states are required to take and publish minutes of every meeting, and in 31 states actions or decisions only recognized as official if decided within an open meeting.

At the national level, the federal government is bound by several laws intended to promote openness in government:

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