OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Tom Gann, R-Inola, this week filed a bill to prohibit the abuse of non-disclosure agreements, providing greater transparency in government.
House Bill 1378 would require businesses of any kind seeking state or local incentives to fully disclose who they are and what they do and also would prevent government officials from entering into non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).
"When politicians are willing to invest and speculate with taxpayer dollars, the Oklahoma taxpayer has a right to know exactly how taxpayer dollars are being distributed for business activity and exactly who will be receiving the taxpayer dollars from vendors seeking to do business with the State of Oklahoma," Gann said.
Gann gave the following example of an NDA.
"In June 2022, in a State Department of Education Board meeting, a testing vendor was awarded $33.6 million for their product, yet the person presenting the proposal refused to reveal who the vendor was. They stated the Office of Management Enterprise Services for Oklahoma was under a NDA. The proposal passed without the public knowing who was receiving $33.6 million of taxpayer dollars despite the board meeting being governed by Oklahoma's Open meeting Act.
"NDAs undermine transparency, which is the purpose of such law."
Gann also pointed to House Bill 2034, the Energy Discrimination Elimination Act of 2022, which passed during the 2022 legislative session and was signed into law by the governor. The bill prevents the state treasurer from investing state resources into companies that ascribe to what Gann termed "woke ideologies," such as Environment Social Governance (ESG).
"The company that competed last year for the over $700 million in state dollars set aside in the Large Economic Area Development (LEAD) Act was an ESG company and could have chosen to locate in Oklahoma, but officials were not disclosing the details because of the NDA signed by elected officials," Gann said.
"Taxpayers have by large majorities rejected these woke ideologies ascribed by stakeholder companies not only at the ballot box but with their pocketbooks as well," he continued. "It is time the Oklahoma taxpayer is respected by the government they are compelled to support. I urge passage HB1378 to require full transparency in government."
- Tom Gann serves District 8 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. His district includes parts of Mayes, Rogers and Wagoner counties.