State Rep. files bill to remove Senate and House exemption from Open Meetings Act

OKLAHOMA CITY — State Rep. Ben Loring (D-Miami) has introduced legislation to promote transparency in the legislature.

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House Bill 2914 would require that 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.

The Oklahoma Open Meetings Act requires that all meetings of public bodies be open to the public and that the public must be given advance notice of such meeting. Under state statute, the Legislature is exempt from the act and is left to establish its own rules of conduct with regard to meetings.

“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.”

This isn’t the first time Loring has filed proposed legislation pertaining to the open government. 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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