Corruption Risk Report Card
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Exemptions to the open records law and lax ethics enforcement are among the issues that earn Oklahoma a low grade on the State Integrity Index. Read more from SII State Reporter Ziva Branstetter.
State integrity news for Oklahoma, from The Oklahoman:
This year's budget agreement included $1 million extra for both the Oklahoma House and the Senate. Now that the Senate has extra money, it should use new technology to at least match what the House provides in terms of public access to the legislative process.
For three years, the Oklahoma House has had live video streaming of all floor sessions, with archived video available on-demand through the chamber's website. The Senate should consider a similar upgrade.
Read the rest of the story at The Oklahoman.
By Caitlin Ginley
Early last month, lawmakers in Iowa completed work on a new open records statute. Senate File 430 creates the Iowa Public Information Board, a nine-member commission charged with enforcing the state’s open records and meetings laws.
For good government advocates in the Hawkeye State, the new legislation was cause for celebration — sort of.
Indeed, there were smiles all around as Gov. Terry Branstad signed the law on May 3 in the ornate Capitol Building, surrounded by lawmakers and journalists — many of whom spent six years on the effort. And the law is undoubtedly a victory of sorts for open government in the state, where enforcement was spotty at best, divided among several local and state entities. If a citizen’s request for information was denied, the only option was to sue — a time-consuming and costly course of action. Now, the Board can investigate complaints and bring them to court on citizens’ behalf.
It all sounds good — except for the fine print.
State integrity news for Oklahoma, from the Oklahoman:
While it is common for caucus meetings, which are private, to involve strategy and policy discussions as well as internal votes on issues or leadership picks, it's unusual for a closed caucus to be made the forum for final action on a bill.
Each party's caucus names members to leadership positions for a reason. Those leaders have to be willing to take the heat for hard choices if they want to enjoy the perks of the power.
Read the rest of the story at the Oklahoman.
Jason Murphey has nothing to hide. And to prove it, he’s offering to let constituents read his emails.
An Oklahoma State Representative now in his third term, Murphey has been a champion of increased state government transparency. Now, in his role as chair of the Government Modernization Committee, Murphey wants to bring some of that openness to the legislature itself. Under current law Oklahoma legislators are exempted from the state’s open records law, a luxury that lawmakers granted themselves decades ago.
Murphey has entered HB 1085, a bill that would reclassify the legislature as one of the public bodies covered under the state’s open records law. With the legislature in charge of more than $6 billion in appropriations spending, and oversight on a total budget of $18 billion annually, Murphey thinks the demand for transparency is undeniable.
“We know it’s the right thing to do,” Murphey said. “And inevitably it will happen, because the hypocrisy is all too obvious.”
Corruption news for Oklahoma, from the Shawnee News-Star:
Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, has filed legislation to make the Oklahoma Legislature subject to the Open Meetings and Open Records Acts. Those two statutes have long provided transparency to all levels of government, but not the Legislature, which exempted itself.
“I spent five years serving in the Oklahoma City government, where we were subject to the Open Meetings and Open Records Acts,” Holt (pictured, right) said. “It is almost a universally held opinion that the City of Oklahoma City has produced some of the most innovative and effective government in our state the last 20 years, and that was done while subject to these important taxpayer protections. I believe it is time the Legislature embraced these acts.”
Read the rest of the story at the Shawnee News-Star.