- Associated Press - Friday, June 19, 2015

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri judge on Friday gave an advocacy group and state lawyers more than a week to file orders in a lawsuit challenging restrictions on filming Missouri Senate committee hearings.

Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem listened to oral arguments for nearly an hour in the first hearing on the lawsuit brought by Progress Missouri, which alleges decisions by Senate committee chairmen to prohibit filming by the group violates the state’s Sunshine Law. The group also says the prohibition infringes on its freedom of speech and association, The Jefferson City News-Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/1dEIWof ).

The attorney general’s office, which is representing the Senate, wants the case dismissed because the Missouri Constitution gives the Senate the authority “to determine the rules of its own proceedings,” including rules on recording their proceedings.

Jeremiah Morgan, the state’s deputy solicitor general, said that authority is “just as this court has established its own proceedings.”

St. Louis lawyer Christopher Grant, representing Progress Missouri, contends the Senate must comply with language in the state’s opening meetings and records law that says public entities “shall allow for the recording by audiotape, videotape, or other electronic means of any open meeting.”

Morgan, however, said the law does not say “suggest that anyone, at any time, can record without permission.”

Grant said the Senate communications staff doesn’t record every hearing, and didn’t record a couple of hearings this past year that Progress Missouri asked for permission to record and was denied.

Beetem said each side in the case can have 10 days to file any proposed orders they want him to consider.

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Information from: Jefferson City News Tribune, http://www.newstribune.com

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