“The intent was to strike that balance between transparency and certain privacy rights of citizens or employees in certain circumstances, or in law enforcement investigations,” Taylor said. “The press association did a very good job of working with the Legislature and coming up with what I think at that time was a model act for the rest of the country.”
Even so, many government agencies continue to ignore the law, Sands said.
Preserving the hard-fought access the law grants is a year-round job, said Mark Thomas, executive vice president of the Oklahoma Press Association. Of 2,400 bills filed for the current legislative session, about 450 deal with meetings, records, privacy or confidentiality, including several requests for additional exemptions to the Open Records Act. Thomas spends much of the legislative session negotiating compromises with lawmakers.
“I'm not afraid of any words on any piece of paper that proposes a law to change it to make it more open or more confidential,” Thomas said. “You have to just help every legislator understand and come at everything from a perspective of belief in transparency and openness.”