Freedom of information discusses public’s right to know

BY DARLA SLIPKE Published: March 13, 2011
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/> Many people aren’t aware of their rights, Senat said — having an agency like Freeman’s to turn to would be a big help. He said Oklahomans often have trouble getting their local district attorneys to take freedom of information issues seriously and don’t know who else to turn to.

State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones said he liked the idea of an open government office like the one in New York. He said he would talk to people about the possibility of creating one here.

“I think that’s something we ought to do in the state of Oklahoma.”

Other speakers at the conference discussed legislation relating to the public’s right to know and ways to use the state’s open meeting and open records laws.

Some bills that have been introduced would be detrimental to the public’s right to know, said Mark Thomas, executive vice president of the Oklahoma Press Association.

House Bill 1797, which would ban texting while driving, also includes language that would prohibit someone from viewing or copying a record from the Department of Public Safety before paying for it. The bill would prevent people from looking at a record to make sure it contains the information they want or from copying down the information they want unless they first pay for it, sight unseen.

State Rep. Jason Murphey, R- Guthrie, received the Sunshine Award for promoting openness in government. Murphey said several bills would promote open meetings and open government, including a bill he introduced that would require the legislature to comply with the state’s open meeting and open records laws.

Murphey said technology has helped many agencies provide easier access to information.

“We just have to keep pushing,” he said.