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Times, They Are a Changin'

Times, they are a Changin’ - January 6, 2019

State Representative David Perryman 

            When Bob Dylan released his 1964 hit song, “Times, They are a Changin’” he had no idea how prophetic the lyrics were. We understand the truth that he sang, “Come gather ‘round people wherever you roam and admit that the waters around you have grown and accept it that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone. If your time is worth saving then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone.”

            Our changing world is both exciting and frightening. One of the greatest minds of our times, Buckminster Fuller was a renowned 20th century inventor and visionary who dedicated his life to making the world work for all of humanity and pursued a more sustainable planet.

            In 2013, David Russell Schilling, a freelance technology writer stated in an online publication that, “Buckminster Fuller created the “Knowledge Doubling Curve,” noting that until 1900 human knowledge doubled approximately every century. By the end of World War II knowledge was doubling every 25 years.” In 2013, Shilling observed that human knowledge was doubling every 13 months.

If that is not fast enough for us, IBM technicians, predict that the build out of the “internet of things” will eventually lead to the doubling of knowledge every 12 hours. The growth of technology to deliver knowledge is not limited to the internet. Today, social media such as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat and Facebook live play a vital function in the dissemination of that knowledge and despite the use of the term “social” they affect nearly all functions of life.

One area that is not immune is government. Of course, if there is any transparency in any area of our lives, it should be in our government. Ours cannot be a government “of the people, by the people, for the people” without transparency. Good or bad, citizens should have access to the means to know what the government and their elected officials are up to. That is the very basis of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

Over the past few years, many elected officials have incorporated the use of social media to let constituents know what is going on in real time. Oklahoma is no exception. Last session a majority Representative from the Tulsa area broadcast a video made on the House floor to comment negatively about educators who were at the capitol seeking increased funding for education. While that video went viral, most Legislators who use video capability do so for positive communications with constituents in real time.

On Friday afternoon the majority caucus released proposed House Rules for the 57th Legislature that will convene next month. The rules are to be voted on this week so there was naturally as scramble to compare the proposed rules with the expiring House Rules for the 56th Legislature. One change will prohibit video recording or broadcasts by Members while on the House Floor while the House is in session.

It is not clear whether the majority’s intent is to protect legislators from repeating the fiasco of the viral video or to limit real time access to constituents. Nonetheless, such a rule change will negatively impact transparency and will surely be the subject of debate when the new rules are considered.

Times, they are a changin’ and Dylan hit it on the head when he sang, “Come senators, congressmen, please heed the call. Don’t stand in the doorway, don’t block up the hall. For he that gets hurt will be he who has stalled. The battle outside ragin’ will soon shake your windows and rattle your walls, for the times they are a-changin’.

Questions or Comments should be directed to David.Perryman@OkHouse.gov or 405-557-7401.