Legislator Challenges Lack of Openness in OCC Task Force Bill

transparency

An attempt to create a task force to study energy regulations enforced by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission has resulted in a spat over the lack of transparency of such a group.

House Minority leader Scott Inman has raised questions about House Bill 1377 proposed by House Speaker Charles McCall. Rep. Inman believes the measure would result in a violation of the Oklahoma Open Meeting law because all 3 Corporation Commissioners would be named to the 9-member task force.

“This would appear to authorize and put all 3 Corporation Commissioners on a task force to sit together with members of the oil and gas community, the utility community and members of the legislature and do it all behind closed doors as they discuss regulatory issues,” said Rep. Inman during a recent hearing of the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Under state law, when two corporation commissioners meet and discuss business, it is a violation of the Open Meeting law unless it is public and follows the 24-hour notification requirement.

“I think that creates an enormous problem when it comes to transparency. It violates the intent of the Open Meeting Act as it pertains in particular when it comes to the Corporation Commission,” added Inman. “We have to do one of two things or I think this is going to have serious problems. We either have to A, delineate specifically that those 3 members cannot be members of the Corporation Commission or they have to get rid of the Open Meeting Act exclusion.”

Rep. Weldon Watson, who carried the Speaker’s bill in committee explained, “Again, it’s a work in progress.”

An effort by Inman to amend the measure was defeated in committee and the bill was sent to the full House for a vote.

Listen to Rep. Scott Inman’s debate over the Open Meeting aspect of HB 1377. He discussed it with Rep. Weldon Watson.

 

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