OKLAHOMA CITY – Freedom of Information Oklahoma this week awarded its annual Sunshine Award to House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City.
The award recognizes a public official or governmental body that has shown a commitment to freedom of information.
The nomination letter for Rep. Echols states that he is “not only a leader in the House of Representatives, but is an advocate for transparency in government. He is willing and able to work with all sides of an issue to craft laws that live up to the spirit of the Open Meeting and Open Records Act. He is respected by the Capitol Press Corps as a person that is accessible and gives honest answers to difficult questions. Sometimes his willingness to engage in a frank discussion of both sides of FOI-related issues is misinterpreted. But Jon Echols is a believer that all sides of an issue should be discussed and considered if we are going to enact the best public policy. The FOI Sunshine Award recognizes persons that have shown a commitment to freedom of information. Majority Leader Echols has done just that and is a deserving recipient of The Sunshine Award.”
Echols said he’s honored to be nominated for and to receive this prestigious award.
“Government transparency is of the utmost importance to me,” Echols said. “People in this state and in our nation elect representatives to conduct government business on their behalf. By doing that, they expect that process to be open and transparent and to be given access to all that goes into passing legislation that then becomes the laws that govern them.”
Echols said since being elected to the House in 2013 and during his time as majority floor leader, he has worked hard to increase transparency in the legislative process.
“Adding a daily floor calendar to better show the bills that will likely come before the House each legislative day is an example of this,” he said. “Making myself accessible to members of both the majority and minority parties and to the media, and thereby the public, on a daily basis is another part of this transparency. Again, I’m honored to be recognized for my efforts, and I promise to continue to make government as transparent as possible as I continue to serve.”
Echols said transparency became especially important when the pandemic hit Oklahoma this March, forcing the Legislature to modify its rules and procedures.
“It was very important to me that the House be as open as possible when we had to change legislative processes to safely meet and keep government functioning at the onset of the pandemic,” Echols said.
Founded in 1990, FOI Oklahoma is a statewide organization actively supporting those individuals and organizations who are working to open records or provide access to meetings illegally closed. The organization’s Board of Directors consists of attorneys, educators, journalists, state and elected officials, librarians and private citizens from all across Oklahoma.