AN effort to shine a little light on the sausage-making process at the state Capitol has come and gone, and is most certainly finished for good this session. It'll return, although the bill's demise last week was an indication of just how protracted and challenging will be the push to hold Oklahoma lawmakers to most of the same open record and open meeting laws as other public officials.
House Bill 1085 by Rep. Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie, came out of committee on the last day possible, then wasn't placed on the House docket until Thursday, the final day that House members could consider bills that originated there. The addition of 23 amendments, most by Republican Reps. Mike Reynolds and Randy Terrill, made it less palatable and further gummed up the process.
Terrill, R-Moore, who generally has been an advocate of more openness except in the case of making birth dates of state employees available to the media, was open to withdrawing many of his amendments and showed a willingness to help the bill along. Not so Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, who said the bill was inadequate and that his many amendments were needed to give the bill some teeth.
Reynolds' explanation is best taken with a grain of salt. He is no fan of House Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee, who supported the bill, and he seems to delight in adding amendments that often do little more than slow the business at hand on the House floor. In this case, he made sure to say it was “inexcusable that leadership would not hear the bill.”
But as last week unfolded, several members let it be known to Murphey and Steele that they would not support the measure. Murphey called the opposition “intense,” and said it was clear that there were “a large number of members who are not prepared for transparency.”