Press Association fights to keep meetings, records open

Sunday, February 26th 2006, 6:16 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The Oklahoma Press Association's Mark Thomas is a busy man this time of year.

As the state legislature begins its annual session, Thomas sifts through hundreds of bills to make sure they do not shut off the public's access to their government or infringe on the First Amendment rights of citizens and the press.

For years, the OPA has battled overt attempts to expand exemptions to Oklahoma's Open Records Act of 1985, enacted so citizens can attend open meetings of government bodies and obtain government records.

So far this year, Thomas says he's found several measures that will actually help the public's access to their government, although some need a few kinks worked out.

But Thomas says some other measures are cause for concern. He says lawmakers often file bills that seem fine on the surface, but have the opportunity to shut off the public from access to their government.