Lawmakers see bill signed that will increase government transparency

Sen. Nathan Dahm and Rep. Tom Gann attend a ceremonial bill signing of Senate Bill 316 with Gov. Kevin Stitt in the Blue Room at the State Capitol. Pictured left to right: Carla Ray, legislative assistant to Rep. Gann, Sen. Dahm, Gov. Stitt, Rep. Gann and his wife, Debbie Gann.

OKLAHOMA CITY – Sen. Nathan Dahm and Rep. Tom Gann today observed as Gov. Kevin Stitt ceremonially signed a bill that will increase transparency and accountability of the transfer of state dollars between state agencies and other entities.

Senate Bill 316 creates the Government Transparency Act of 2019, which requires state agencies to publish online the specifics of agreements with other entities when a transfer of public money will take place. The posting must be within 15 days of the agreement’s effective date. Agencies also are required to provide copies of the proposed agreements to appropriate legislative committees.

“Many of our state agencies have entered into memorandums of understanding or agreements with other state agencies, public entities, or even foreign governments,” said Sen. Dahm, R-Broken Arrow. “However, most of these are done without public input or knowledge. State government should work to be open and transparent in working for the good of our citizens. This is a huge step forward in bringing that additional transparency for our citizens to further engage and investigate the actions of government to hold them accountable.”

Gann echoed his sentiments.

“Senate Bill 316 addresses the grand jury audit finding that found the Oklahoma Department of Health had transferred money to the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust without a proper memorandum of understanding or agreement in place,” said Rep. Gann, R-Inola. “This legislation, requiring state agencies to post those agreements online, enhances transparency and accountability on what monies are being exchanged between agencies. This is the proper way to conduct government business in full view of the public.”

The law becomes effective Nov. 1.