Monday, February 25, 2013

Opaque Transparency in Oklahoma State Government

I receive a regular email from a service that monitors the Oklahoma state legislature.  Reading a list of bills recently passed by committee, I noticed something called the Transparency Accountability and Innovation in Oklahoma State Government 2.0 Act of 2013.  It is HB1003, introduced by Representative Murphey.  I looked it up on the legislature's Bill Information site and found this bill summary:

 HB 1003, as introduced, creates the Transparency, Accountability and Innovation in Oklahoma State Government 2.0 Act of 2013 and is a shell bill.
 It turns out that this is a pretty detailed summary, since the full text of the bill is as follows:

SECTION 1.     NEW LAW     A new section of law not to be
codified in the Oklahoma Statutes reads as follows: 
This act shall be known and may be cited as the “Transparency,
Accountability and Innovation in Oklahoma State Government 2.0 Act
of 2013”. 
SECTION 2.  This act shall become effective November 1, 2013.
When the bill summary refers to HB1003 as a "shell bill," it means that the guts will be added at a later time.  Often, the majority party will use this technique to avoid public scrutiny.  There will be a shell bill that will just sit until near the end of the legislative session, when the contents will be added and the bill will be quickly and quietly passed.  Sometimes, the added contents have little or no relation to the original title of the shell bill.

It does not appear that this is what is happening with HB1003.  The contents have already been filled in by amendment and this was done prior to the bill being approved in committee.  As amended, the bill does not appear to be anything sinister.  But I still found it amusing that a bill with "Transparency . . . in Oklahoma State Government" in its title starts out as a shell bill that offers no clues as to its true purpose.

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