Last year’s broader mailing list access was tacked on in the closing days of the legislative session to a bill outlining how state prisons should deal with illegal immigrant detainees. The bill was called the Oklahoma Criminal Illegal Alien Repatriation Act of 2009.
The mailing list section was added to HB 2245 in a conference committee report May 21. OPEA is the only organization that has used the new law to conduct mailings, according to Office of State Finance records. The group is not charged for the list.
The new law applies to organizations limited to state employee membership that include more than 2,000 state employees as members.
One such organization was unaware the new law applied to organizations other than OPEA.
"We’ve not ever used it,” said Amanda Ewing, executive director of Oklahoma Corrections Professionals, which represents more than 2,000 state corrections workers.
Ewing said her organization likely won’t use the new law for mailings because delivering home addresses of public employees to mailing companies seems risky.
"If I were a corrections officer, I’d like to have control over who knew where my home address was,” Ewing said.
OPEA sued the corrections group shortly after its formation in 2008. The lawsuit accuses OPEA’s former membership coordinator and others who left OPEA to form the corrections group of using OPEA’s membership list to recruit members for the corrections group. That lawsuit is pending.
This year, OPEA has been the chief supporter of Senate Bill 1753, which would exempt public employee birthdates from the Open Records Act.
Other employee groups have joined OPEA to support the bill, claiming dates of birth need to be private to protect employees from identity theft and safety concerns.
Freedom of information advocates oppose the bill because they say exempting dates of birth will diminish the ability of the public and media to serve as a watchdog over government. Dates of birth are a key component of accurately identifying people, particularly those with common names.
Senate Bill 1753 passed the Senate and is awaiting a House panel hearing.
The home addresses, telephone numbers and Social Security numbers of public employees are already exempt from the Open Records Act.
Read the new state law that sets up mailing lists for...