Sunshine Laws Law and Legal Definition

Sunshine laws are laws that require government agencies and bodies to allow the public to attend their meetings and have access to their records. Sunshine laws are enacted at the state level and vary by state. Sunshine laws include requirements for public notice of meetings. Generally, a public governmental body is permitted, but not required, to close its meetings, records and votes when they relate to certain specified issues.

Examples of closed matters include:

  • Legal actions, causes of action or litigation (except that votes, minutes and settlement agreements must be opened to the public on final disposition, unless ordered closed by a court).
  • Leasing, purchase or sale of real estate where public knowledge might adversely affect the amount paid in the transaction.
  • Hiring, firing, disciplining or promoting a particular employee.
  • Welfare cases of identifiable individuals.
  • Software codes for electronic data processing.
  • Individually identifiable personnel records.
  • Records related to existing or proposed security systems.
  • Records that are protected from disclosure by other laws.