Restricting public comment at meetings

Thursday, May 22nd 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

(Oklahoma City-AP) -- Legislation that critics say could restrict the public's right to be heard at public meetings was sent to the Oklahoma Senate after the House refused to reconsider its passage.

Representative Opio Toure of Oklahoma City requested a second vote after repeating concerns that the measure might deny citizens the right to speak their minds at public meetings.

Language in the measure states ``no public body shall be required by the Open Meeting Act to permit comments from the public during any of its meetings.''

Supporters of the measure say the legislation will allow public bodies to adopt their own policy on accepting public comments during meetings.

A 1998 opinion from Attorney General Drew Edmondson's office says neither Oklahoma's Open Meetings Act nor the First Amendment require local boards to give people the right to be heard at public meetings.