Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signs law strengthening Open Meeting Act

A new law allows Oklahomans to recover legal fees if they successfully sue over violations of Oklahoma Open Meeting Act.
by Rick Green Modified: May 14, 2014 at 6:42 pm •  Published: May 15, 2014

Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law on Wednesday a bill that allows residents to recover attorney fees if they successfully sue over violations of Oklahoma’s Open Meeting Act.

“This really is a landmark piece of legislation where citizens are empowered to hold public bodies accountable and require them to follow the Open Meeting Act,” said Mark Thomas, spokesman for the Oklahoma Press Association.

The act requires public bodies to make their meetings public and provide advance public notice of when and where they will meet.

Residents legally can challenge public bodies that don’t follow the act, but they have been required to incur all legal expenses to do so, even if they prevail in the litigation. This measure allows them to recover legal expenses if they win in court.

“I do not envision a flood of lawsuits unless there are a flood of violations,” Thomas said. “The bill does not go into effect until Nov. 1, which gives every public body a chance to review their procedures and agendas to learn what the act says and how to follow it.”

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by Rick Green
Capitol Bureau Chief
Rick Green is the Capitol Bureau Chief of The Oklahoman. A graduate of Humboldt State University in Arcata, Calif., he worked as news editor for The Associated Press in Oklahoma City before joining The Oklahoman.
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