Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, has filed legislation to make the Oklahoma Legislature subject to the Open Meetings and Open Records Acts. Those two statutes have long provided transparency to all levels of government, but not the Legislature, which exempted itself.
“I spent five years serving in the Oklahoma City government, where we were subject to the Open Meetings and Open Records Acts,” Holt said. “It is almost a universally held opinion that the City of Oklahoma City has produced some of the most innovative and effective government in our state the last 20 years, and that was done while subject to these important taxpayer protections. I believe it is time the Legislature embraced these acts.”
To achieve greater transparency in state government, Holt has filed Senate Bill 1243, dealing with open meetings, and Senate Bill 1244, which deals with the open records law.
“The Senate has led the charge in promoting greater access to the legislative process and was honored in 2008 by Freedom of Information Oklahoma, Inc., for promoting openness in government,” Holt said. “My legislation builds on that tradition.”
Holt’s Open Meetings legislation would make the Legislature and its committees subject to the provisions of the act during regular and special sessions. Currently, the Legislature’s only transparency is provided by its internal rules.
Holt’s Open Records legislation makes records pertaining to filed legislation subject to the act beginning with the 2013 session. Names of constituents may be redacted, but not names of public employees and lobbyists. Currently, only financial records are subject to public request. “I believe these proposals provide thoughtful solutions to concerns that have been raised by legislators through the years,” Holt said. “I am very optimistic that my colleagues will be receptive to this idea.”