Lawmaker files bill to remove Legislature exemption from Open Meetings Act

Rep. Ben Loring

OKLAHOMA CITY — State Rep. Ben Loring, D-Miami, has introduced legislation to promote transparency in the Legislature.

House Bill 2914 would require both the state House and Senate follow the Open Meetings Act. Currently, the Legislature has exempted itself from the law that allows the public to know, in advance, when and what each body is going to be doing.

“At the end of the day, this is the people’s House or it isn’t,” Loring said. “I strongly believe that it is, and, therefore, I believe Oklahomans have a right to know what is happening in their House.”

The bill would remove the Legislature from entities exempted from the Oklahoma Meetings Act. It would allow caucuses to remain exempt, including the following language under exempted entities: "political party caucuses of both the Oklahoma House of Representatives and the Senate, regardless of whether they contain a majority of the members of those bodies."

This isn’t the first time Loring has filed proposed legislation pertaining to the open government. He said he hopes his last term in office is an opportunity to gain some traction on the issue.

“I truly believe that sunshine is the antidote to corruption,” Loring said. “I have worked at multiple levels of government, and there is no good reason as to why the state House and Senate can’t be just as transparent as we require every other Oklahoma government entity to be.

"We owe it to the people that not only send us here to represent them but also pay for us to be here. Oklahomans deserve a transparent government.”

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Rains is police and court reporter for the Enid News & Eagle. Follow him on Twitter, @cassrains.
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