Oklahoma bill seeks to eliminate birth dates from release of open records data

BY JULIE BISBEE Modified: April 2, 2010 at 6:29 pm •  Published: February 3, 2010
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A bill that would make the birth dates of public employees confidential has passed its first hurdle to become law.

Senate Bill 1753 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday in a unanimous vote. The title was taken off the bill, because some committee members had concerns about language within the measure. A bill must have a title to become law.

Sen. Debbe Leftwich, D-Oklahoma City, filed the bill, saying she was concerned by an attorney general’s opinion that birth dates are presumed to be open under the Oklahoma Open Records Act. The opinion said birth dates are only closed when the agency proves that releasing them would violate an employee’s privacy.

"No one requested this bill. This is based on reaction that I have as a former personnel manager,” said Leftwich, who worked as the director of administration and personnel for the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office.

Leftwich said releasing birth dates to the public could open an employee up for identity theft or harassment.

"I want to make it harder for crooks, not easier,” she said.

Advocates for the state trooper’s association and the Oklahoma Public Employees Association support Leftwich’s efforts to make their birth dates confidential.

"Citizens who work for the state of Oklahoma should have the same protections private employees have,” said Scott Barger, deputy director of the employees association.

Open records advocates say public employee birth dates do not increase the chances of identity theft and the identifying information helps discern innocent people from someone with a similar name who is accused of a crime. Ongoing Coverage: Politics



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