Author’s Note: In 2014, as a law student at the University of Missouri–Columbia School of Law, I wrote an analysis of Missouri Revised Statute § 67.1850. That’s the Missouri statute which grants local governments several unusual powers and great control over the public’s right to access government-held GIS data. My view is that the statute’s enumerated powers run counter to good economic development practices, common sense, and the principles supporting the public’s right to government transparency as codified in the Missouri Sunshine Act. This article makes my case for either repealing or reforming § 67.1850. I’m not just repackaging an old paper for the web. I’m going to update, enhance, and provide links that demonstrate how Missouri’s local governments are misusing the statute, and ultimately harming themselves. – Chris Dunn
Perversely, all of the public records shielded by Missouri’s GIS statute were created a product of the local government performing acts it is mandated by state law to perform. Then, with the passage of Mo. Rev. Stat. § 67.1850 the state essentially told local governments it is allowable, if not encouraged, to move public records into a GIS format. If they do this they might make a little money while making it much more difficult for people to see what those local governments are up to. And if that doesn’t work, by putting a few really nasty sections in their data license agreement a local government ought to be able to run off all but the most determined citizens.
By not understanding the nature of GIS data, the Missouri Legislature may have provided local governments a tool to damage their credibility in the eyes of their citizens and it may have also allowed these local governments to inadvertently harm their local economies.
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