During the recently concluded legislative session, I enjoyed the opportunity to place transparency and openness proposals from newly-elected Oklahoma statewide elected officials into modernization legislation.
Under the leadership of Superintendent Janet Barresi the Department of Education requested legislation to bring transparency to the department’s conference and training processes. In the past the department had conducted conferences and training events with what appears to have been little public purview.
House Bill 1207 created a pilot program to place the expenses associated with these activities online where they can be readily accessed by anyone. The bill allows the training programs to take place in-house without the use of a third-party vendor, and requires the use of e-commerce when conducting the event, plus a report that demonstrates the amount of cost savings due to the reforms.
House Bill 1207 also addressed a request by State Auditor Gary Jones. Each year Oklahoma cities and towns hire a third party auditor to audit cities’ finances. Those audits are sent to the State Auditor where they are filed away and very unlikely to receive any oversight from the public. Jones wants to change this by placing electronic copies of the audits online for everyone to see. House Bill 1207 clears the way for electronic submission of the audits.
State Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s office requested the modernization of the process for printing Attorney General opinions. In the past, Oklahoma laws have mandated the physical publication of law books and Attorney General opinions. These publications were sent to the Oklahoma Department of Libraries where they were forwarded to the other 50 states. In exchange, the other states sent their legal publications to the Oklahoma Department of Libraries.
Over the years, this process has become unnecessary as the various states and Oklahoma have placed their legal materials online. However, the law still mandated the transfer of printed information. The cost for printing thousands of pages of unnecessary legal publications was huge.
I have sponsored legislation with Senator Patrick Anderson in the past that eliminated the requirement for Oklahoma to send statute books to other states. This year, House Bill 1086 also removed the requirement to print the Attorney General’s opinion book to send to the other states.
Next week I will write about the efforts of some of Oklahoma’s other statewide elected officials to reform state government.