Bill relating to Oklahoma Open Meetings Act unanimously passes state House



Oklahoma State House members raised few questions about a bill addressing delayed public records requests made with a government agency or body.

Rep. Annie Menz, Democrat from Norman filed HB2730 and it received unanimous approval on Thursday in the House. The vote was 85-0. HB2730 relates to the Oklahoma Open Meetings Act, which promotes transparency amongst the public.

The bill requires any public body who is unable to complete an open records request within ten business days to provide a written notice indicating the reason for the delay and an estimated date of availability.

“The public has a right to access these records and know when they will be given to them,” Menz said. “This is one step toward full transparency for Oklahomans. Oklahomans are the ones footing the bill for their government, so the least we could do is respectfully provide them information when they request it.”

According to the Open Meetings Act, every regular, special, emergency, or reconvened meeting of a public body shall have open records, except as provided by the Act.

The State House has yet to vote on another measure targeting the Open Meetings Act, HB 2367 authored by Rep. Tammy Townley of Ardmore. Her bill, which won committee approval on a unanimous vote, would exempt the state’s three Corporation Commissioners from certain parts of the Open Meetings Act. She contends it would improve the efficiency of the Commission and told committee members the Commission supported the measure.

However, Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony came out with an editorial piece in opposition to Townley’s bill as OK Energy Today reported Friday.  He said the Corporation Commission should fall under more public scrutiny, not less as the measure proposes.

“HB 2367 is an attempt to slam the lid down and nail shut the coffin that the Corporation Commission has attempted to build for the very costly cover-up that the special interests orchestrated to conceal their multi-billion-dollar 2021 Winter Storm profiteering and bail-outs at the expense of Oklahoma ratepayers,” wrote the Commissioner.

“Personally, I believe the activities, meetings and records of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) and its individual commissioners deserve more, not less, scrutiny – by the public, the news media, the State Auditor, the legislature, and anyone else interested to learn the truth about why Oklahoma ratepayers will be paying some $5 billion over the next 2.5 decades for two-weeks-worth of energy usage in February 2021 that should have cost a tiny fraction of that.”