House sponsor says DOB bill likely will change before vote

State Rep.
Randy Terrill says a bill exempting the birth dates of public employees from personnel files likely won't be in its current form when it comes up for a vote in the House, The Oklahoman reports today.

Terrill, a Republican from Moore, told the newspaper he wants to come up with a process that outlines how and under what circumstances birth dates of public workers should be released. He said he wants the process to protect workers’ privacy while maintaining the public’s right to know about who is working for their government.

That doesn't sound any more promising for the public's right to know than the current process of balancing the public interest in disclosure and determining whether disclosure would constitute an "unwarranted invasion" of each employee's privacy.

Terrill seems to still be laboring under the impression that releasing the birth date is an invasion of privacy. The information is found in other public records, including voter registration records.

If releasing a birth date is an unwarranted invasion of privacy, why didn't legislators exempt DOBs when they exempted employees' home telephone numbers, home addresses and Social Security numbers in past years?

What about employees' names? Their salaries? Will those be considered unwarranted invasions of privacy?

A week ago, five of the six announced gubernatorial candidates said if they were governor, they would veto SB 1753.

Legislators would better serve public employees if they put an end to this bill and focused instead on solving real problems such as layoffs and unpaid furloughs.

Joey Senat, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
OSU School of Journalism
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the commentators and do not necessarily represent the position of FOI Oklahoma Inc., its staff, or its board of directors. Differing interpretations of open government law and policy are welcome.