Effort to close some of Oklahoma’s Open Meetings Act before House Committee

While members of an Oklahoma state House committee prepare to hold a hearing this week on a bill to grant certain exemptions from the Open Meetings Act to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, a similar attempt in Kansas is reported to be dead.
Ardmore Rep. Tammy Townley’s HB2367 would make the three commissioners exempt for certain meetings, administrative matters and staff meetings, as long as no votes were taken. It will be heard Wednesday afternoon in the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee during a 3 o’clock hearing.
In Kansas, legislators tried the same exemption effort but Emily Bradbury, Executive Director of the Kansas Press Association tells OK Energy Today, the measure, HB2591, failed in committee.
“It is dead.”
She said the apparent lobbying efforts of opponents helped “stop what we believe would be a slippery slope to an even greater number of Kansas Open Meetings Act exemptions.”
Mark Thomas, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Press Association believes if Rep. Townley is successful in her exemption bill, it will lead to other 3-member agencies in the state attempting to get the same exemptions.
Proponents of the exemption bill contend that by allowing corporation commissioners to meet and handle certain staffing and administrative matters, it would make the agency more efficient. Open Meeting advocates suggest exemptions would allow commissioners to hide matters from the public.