Friday, January 7, 2011
State Senate's new rules give public, senators one legislative day to review bills before vote
Legislative rules adopted this week by the state Senate require that bills be available to the senators and public on the legislative day prior to the vote, a Tulsa World editorial explained today.
Meanwhile, a House panel is considering a rule requiring House conference committee reports to be filed and posted online for a full 24 hours even during the final two days of the session before they could be considered on the House floor. (House rules are adopted on the first day of the session, which is Feb. 7.)
As the Tulsa World editorial writers observed this morning, "One day isn't much notice."
But the Senate's rule, first reported by Capitol News Now, is treated as good news because it should put an end to senators considering bills or joint resolutions in the waning hours of the legislative session.
The Tulsa World praised the notion of providing public access to legislation prior to votes. "It introduces democracy to the public's business," the newspaper said.
It called the Senate's new rule "a good start."
But the next step should be requiring both the House and Senate to comply with our state's Open Records and Open Meeting laws -- as state Rep. Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie, is proposing.
As the Tulsa World noted, "Senators [and representatives] have nothing to fear from letting the public know what they are doing, unless they're doing something they don't want the public to know about."
Joey Senat, Ph.D.
OSU School of Media & Strategic Communications