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Government transparency measure would require reason to be given for open records delays

Kateleigh Mills

When a member of the public files an open records request from a government agency, there is no timetable required for it to be fulfilled.

Sometimes, it can feel like a public records request in Oklahoma simply goes into a black hole.

State agencies often take months or occasionally even years to fulfill a request to inspect government records, often irking members of the public and reporters tasked with informing them.

House Bill 2730 would require a public body to give written notice about why a records request takes more than 10 days and give an estimated date of availability.

Rep. Annie Menz, D-Norman says the measure would promote transparency from the government.

“The public has a right to access these records and know when they will be given to them,” Menz said in a written statement. “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.”

The Oklahoma Open Meetings Act – which would be tweaked by the legislation – requires “all records of public bodies and public officials shall be open to any person for inspection, copying, or mechanical reproduction during regular business hours.”

HB 2730 can now be heard in the Senate after passing off the House floor unanimously last week.

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Updated: March 11, 2024 at 12:37 PM CDT
This story was corrected to fix Rep. Annie Menz's name.
Robby Korth joined KOSU as its news director in November 2022.
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