The State Legislature Should Not Be Immune to the Open Records Act

July 18, 2010 Posted by E. Zachary Knight

What makes the Oklahoma State Legislature so special that they can justify exempting themselves from our State’s open records act? Why are all other government bodies under threat of litigation if they do not fully disclose all their meetings to the public they serve, while our Representatives and Senators can hold secret meetings about our future without our knowledge?

Fear. That is the only thing I can think of. I think our government is so afraid of the people that elect them that they would rather hide themselves from the eyes of the people that they serve. What else could it be?

News 6 of Tulsa recently wrote a report on this corruption in our state. They came to the conclusion that the Legislature just didn’t want their bosses looking over their shoulders.

The Newcastle City Council is required by law to disclose the subject matter of all council meetings whether those meeting are open to the public or not. The city of Norman was sued and the charges later dismissed recently because someone felt they were not living up to the letter of law. Yet at the same time, our Representatives and Senators can hold any number of meetings on any number of subjects without informing those of us who elect them.

In most all jobs, the employees are given regular performance reviews. These happen at many stages throughout the year. There are the yearly performance reviews but also some done during the year. We have chosen our representatives and Senators to do the work we want them to do. By blocking our ability to perform our performance reviews of them, we cannot do our job properly when it comes election time.

During the last week of the Legislative Session, an $80 thousand dollar a year job was created with no evidence to point to who exactly wrote it into a bill. This is the kind of corruption that these exemptions from open records breeds.

When I am elected as State Representative, I will make it a point to fight to have all Legislative meetings disclosed to the public. I will oppose any effort to exempt the Legislature from full disclosure, unless there is an obvious and unavoidable need for confidentiality.

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