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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
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Specifically, MAPS experienced a lot of change due to open meetings. I think you see the same thing currently with MAPS 3. That's a good thing.

It also provides legitimacy to the final decision, if people have an opportunity to speak their mind and be heard, even if ultimately their specific preference is not adopted.

The public and the media are allowed into the House and Senate while they are in session, so if you could, explain where the problems are with the current rules that apply to the legislature?

Murphey: Notice isn't codified and they are thus subject to arbitrary and capricious change. This would add a level of permanence to the notice process.

What about caucus meetings of political parties at the Legislature? Would they be open under the proposed bill?

Murphey: No. :( The politics are that we had to exempt them to have a chance at passage.

What is the reasoning there? Why are some legislators against having caucus meetings open?

Holt: Caucus meetings are not open under the bill. A year ago I proposed in a different bill that I introduced that caucus meetings at least be posted (kind of like an executive session). Not that they would be open, but at least the public would know that a majority of the Senate or House were meeting and where. But that was deemed a nonstarter, too.

Murphey: Many legislators believe the caucus needs to hammer out the issue and hear all viewpoints and feel that those viewpoints will not be expressed if the meeting is public.

Read the complete chat transcript here.