Typically, you must pay to complete a Sunshine request. However, Section 610.026(1) of the Missouri Sunshine Law authorizes records requests to be completed without charge or at a reduced charge when the request is “in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the public governmental body.”
There is not an option to request a fee waiver through DNR’s online request form, but you may mark that you would like to be contacted if the fee to complete your request exceeds a certain amount. In a written request, you will include a statement that you request all fees associated with filling the request be waived. To demonstrate that your request will serve public interests, you should also include a brief explanation of how you will use the information you expect to obtain through the request and why that information will be beneficial. For example:
“MCE is a non-profit, grassroots, citizen action group which is dedicated, in part, to educating its members by providing awareness of governmental operations and activities. MCE maintains a website, prepares a regular newsletter, sends e-alerts and holds community meetings regarding environmental issues of concern to its members and the general public. MCE uses its capacity to make complex legal and factual information available to the public. This request will significantly contribute to the public’s understanding of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), their compliance with state policies, and regulatory oversight.”
Fee waivers are not always accepted. However, individuals and organizations reserve the right to appeal a denied fee waiver and narrow or otherwise modify their request if the expected copying fees are in excess of a specified amount.