Oklahoma lawmakers want to add numerous exemptions to the state’s sunshine laws. At least a half dozen bills still alive in the Oklahoma Legislature this session would close information on autopsy reports, birth dates of public employees, municipal court data and records from the Oklahoma Film and Music Office.
"It seems like it’s a battle every year in the Legislature to protect the public’s right to know what its government is doing,” said Joey Senat, a media law expert at Oklahoma State University and board member for Freedom of Information Oklahoma. "I guess it’s not a battle that will ever end.” Last week, a bill by state Sen. Debbe Leftwich, D-Oklahoma City, that would keep birth dates of public employees private, sailed through the Senate 44-0 with no discussion. The Oklahoma Public Employees Association has endorsed the proposal. Social security numbers, addresses and telephone numbers, are kept private. Mark Thomas, director of the Oklahoma Press Association, said, "There are a lot of great public employees, and I certainly don’t think every government worker is a crook.