The Senate Rules Committee on Tuesday heard why the Legislature should be more transparent in its operations and how open government laws apply to state lawmakers elsewhere.
Bills removing the Oklahoma Legislature's self-imposed exemptions from the state's Open Records and Open Meeting laws are expected this coming session from Republican Sen. David Holt of Oklahoma City and Rep. Jason Murphey of Guthrie.
Holt was responsible for the Senate hearing Tuesday.
Peter J. Rudy of Oklahoma Capitol Source urged senators to adopt the House practice of having standing conference committees with public meetings and votes on bills. Rudy's full comments can be read here.
News coverage of the hearing:
- Sean Murphy, Okla. Senate panel hears from opengovt. advocates, The Associated Press, SF Gate/San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 13, 2012.
- Phil Cross, Critics want an open government, KOKH FOX 25, Nov. 13, 2012.
- Barbara Hoberock, Panel hears call for open government, Tulsa World, Nov. 14, 2012.
Here are my prepared remarks to the committee:
As the Oklahoma Constitution recognizes and guarantees, all political power is inherent in the people. Thus, it is the public policy of the State of Oklahoma that the people are vested with the inherent right to know and be fully informed about their government.
- The Colorado General Assembly meets 120 days each year. Senate committees are expected to post at least one calendar day prior to the meeting a notice of the measures to be considered.
- The Texas Legislature meets only every two years for a maximum of 140 calendar days. Yet, its committees must give at least 24-hour notice of hearings on bills.
- The House and the Senate allow anyone to file a written complaint alleging a violation of the open meeting requirements. Under the House rules, the Speaker must investigate the complaint promptly.
- If the Speaker concludes that a violation may have occurred, the Speaker must refer the complaint to the Committee on Ethics for further proceedings.
- In the Senate, the written complaint is submitted to the Chairman of the Committee on Rules and Administration, who must immediately forward the complaint to the Subcommittee on Ethical Conduct.
A government by secrecy benefits no one. It injures the people it seeks to serve; it damages its own integrity and operation. It breeds distrust, dampens the fervor of its citizens and mocks their loyalty.
- 85 percent of Republicans,
- 84 percent of Democrats, and
- 93 percent of independents.
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the commentators and do not necessarily represent the position of FOI Oklahoma Inc., its staff, or its board of directors. Differing interpretations of open government law and policy are welcome.