Lawmakers discuss bill to subject Oklahoma legislature to open meeting, records laws

NewsOK reporter Bryan Dean chatted with State Rep. Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie, and State Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, about open meetings requirements for the state Legislature Wednesday afternoon.

BY BRYAN DEAN bdean@opubco.com Modified: January 23, 2013 at 3:49 pm •  Published: January 23, 2013

NewsOK reporter Bryan Dean chatted with State Rep. Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie, and State Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, about open meetings requirements for the state Legislature Wednesday afternoon.

Murphey and Holt began working on a bill to subject the state Legislature to open meeting requirements last year.

You can join Bryan’s open record Q&A’s on the fourth Wednesday of every month at 2:30 p.m. and submit your questions about legislation and public access in Oklahoma. Read the complete chat transcript here.

Why is passing something like this a challenge? What is the opposition you have heard?

Murphey: Last year, some expressed concern that if the media could access legislative email that the media might distort the exchanges or take them out of context.

Others are worried about their schedules becoming public and presenting a security threat.

Holt: In general, the general opposition to transparency comes from a fear of the unknown. Most legislators have never served at a different level of government in Oklahoma, and the concepts in the Open Records and Open Meetings acts are just foreign to them. So it's Jason and I's role to educate them and get them more comfortable with it.

Sen. Holt, you worked at the city while MAPS and MAPS for Kids were implemented. These are both feathers in the cap for Oklahoma City government. How did conducting meetings in public affect these initiatives?

Holt: I think the wisdom of elected leadership is never going to surpass the collective wisdom of the public. You only benefit from that collective wisdom if you operate in public and allow everyone who is interested an opportunity to make suggestions.