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Holding State government accountable

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At first glance, it was just like many other emails sent by area residents. The writer, a constituent of South Logan County, expressed his frustration with the regulatory actions of a large state agency. While I understood the writer’s frustration and his valid description of a legitimate abuse, I was excited to realize that his email contained a validation of one of the most important transparency tools, a tool which allowed this South Logan County resident to demonstrate an error by a large state agency.

State Represenstative Jason Murphey

State Represenstative Jason Murphey

Starting in 2009, we placed videos of each House session online for all to see. When we implemented this transparency concept, I envisioned that citizens would watch the proceedings as they happened. However, I failed to realize the full potential of the service. The most important part of this reform isn’t that the content is broadcast in the first place; it’s valuable because it’s accessible for everyone to see for years to come. The video content has been indexed to allow viewers to retrieve very specific footage without the need to scroll through other items.

In 2013, a state representative sponsored a bill to lift restrictive, costly government regulations on those who sell home produced items. Specifically, the representative explained how the bill would allow home-based food producers to sell their products at farmers’ markets.

Unfortunately, while the legislation won approval, the state agency charged with carrying out the intent of the new law sought to prohibit the sale of these goods at farmer’s markets.

The South Logan County resident didn’t simply accept the agency’s interpretation of the new law, but actually took the time to find and review the debate from the House floor. He was able to see the bill’s author clearly state that the law was intended for farmer’s market sales. The footage clearly contradicted the agency’s interpretation and demonstrated the true legislative intent.

This example shows the importance of the rapid expansion of government transparency through the use of new technologies. Using these technologies, taxpayers of the future will be in a position to hold government accountable as never before.

The broadcast of House proceedings would not have been possible without the support of House Speaker Chris Benge who had the courage to turn the cameras on to show the world what occurs in the House. Benge’s chief of staff Chad Warmington implemented the reform very successfully and our vendor Granicus has led the way in developing web-based transparency tools where taxpayers can become more involved in governance and whose legislative video product is the best I have seen.

Please be sure to read my article next week when I will update readers on our upcoming legislative hearing regarding the hundreds of earthquakes epicentered in Logan and Oklahoma counties.

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