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New openness at Oklahoma State Capitol

OKLAHOMA CITY – For the first time in state history, the Oklahoma House of Representatives will have standing conference committees that hold meetings open to the public.

            The historic reform, adopted by lawmakers at the start of session, will be implemented next week as conference committee work begins.

            "Opening up conference committees represents a major change in the way business is conducted at the state Capitol," said House Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee. "The rule changes adopted this year dramatically increase the opportunity for public input into the legislative process and provide greater safeguards against last-minute changes escaping thorough review."

            "While the democratic process may be noisy and, at time, contentious, it must also be transparent for the public to have faith in the decisions made at the Capitol," said House Speaker Pro Tempore Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview. "I believe this new process provides far greater openness and accountability as well as common-sense timelines for the end of session allowing adequate opportunity to review legislation. These reforms were needed in the Legislature for decades, and I am proud that lawmakers have been bold enough to enact them this year."

            The conference-committee rule changes are the result of a working group created in November 2010 and chaired by Hickman.

 

Conference Committee Reforms

            When the House and Senate pass different versions of the same bill, the legislation is then sent to a joint conference committee where a final version is negotiated. In the past, those conference committees rarely convened in any actual meeting of the members and votes were seldom cast in public.

            Under the new process, the House will establish permanent standing conference committees to handle its half of the process. Those permanent conference committees will hold public meetings and all votes will be cast in public. Advance public notice that includes a detailed listing of bills on the agenda will be required for each conference committee meeting.

            The House rules will continue to prohibit completely gutting a bill in conference and replacing it with language unrelated to the measure's original topic.

To provide extra safeguards against such action, no bill can be assigned to a standing conference committee unless the group's membership includes the chairperson and vice-chairperson of the traditional standing committee that previously heard the measure.

            Prior to receiving a vote in conference committee, proposed versions of each bill will be publicly posted online for member and public review with a link to previous versions with changes highlighted.

            As in the past, for a bill to emerge from conference committee and receive a vote from the entire Oklahoma House of Representatives, the conference committee report must receive the support of a majority of both the House and Senate members constituting the conference committee.

The reforms also include a hard 24-hour rule that requires a House conference committee report to be filed and posted online for a full day before it can be considered on the House floor. Previously, there was no 24-hour rule during the final two days of session.

The conference committees are as follows:

 

CONFERENCE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION

  • Common Education
  • Higher Education & Career Tech

 

Ann Coody (R) – CHAIR

Todd Thomsen (R) – VICE CHAIR

Corey Holland (R)

Dennis Casey (R)

Lee Denney (R)

Marian Cooksey (R)

Gus Blackwell (R)

Jadine Nollan (R)

Elise Hall (R)

Ed Cannaday (D)

Steve Kouplen (D)

Jeannie McDaniel (D)

Jabar Shumate (D)

 

CONFERENCE COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES

  • Agriculture, Wildlife & Environment
  • Energy & Utility Regulation

 

Phil Richardson (R) – CHAIR

John Trebilcock (R) – VICE CHAIR

Todd Russ (R)

Mike Jackson (R)

Leslie Osborn (R)

Don Armes (R)

Ron Peters (R)

Rusty Farley (R)

Steve Vaughan (R)

Brian Renegar (D)

Eric Proctor (D)

Danny Morgan (D)

Wade Rousselot (D)

 

CONFERENCE COMMITTEE ON GOVT. MODERNIZATION & RULES

  • Administrative Rules & Government Oversight
  • Government Modernization
  • Rules

 

Gary Banz (R) – CHAIR

Jason Murphey (R) – VICE CHAIR

George Faught (R)

Weldon Watson (R)

David Brumbaugh (R)

Josh Cockroft (R)

Marty Quinn (R)

Aaron Stiles (R)

Lewis Moore (R)

Joe Dorman (D)

Purcy Walker (D)

Wes Hilliard (D)

Rebecca Hamilton (D)

 

CONFERENCE COMMITTEE ON HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES

  • Human Services
  • Long-Term Care & Senior Services
  • Public Health

 

Pam Peterson (R) – CHAIR

John Enns (R) – VICE CHAIR

Mike Sanders (R)

Sally Kern (R)

David Derby (R)

Jason Nelson (R)

Doug Cox (R)

Lisa Billy (R)

Sean Roberts (R)

R.C. Pruett (D)

Seneca Scott (D)

Al McAffrey (D)

Will Fourkiller (D)

 

CONFERENCE COMMITTEE ON GENERAL GOVT. & TRANSPORTATION

  • General Government
  • Transportation

 

Dennis Johnson (R) – CHAIR

T.W. Shannon (R) – VICE CHAIR

Mike Christian (R)

Charlie Joyner (R)

Guy Liebmann (R)

Harold Wright (R)

Randy Grau (R)

Scott Martin (R)

Tommy Hardin (R)

Donnie Condit (D)

Larry Glenn (D)

Jerry Shoemake (D)

James Lockhart (D)

 

CONFERENCE COMMITTEE ON INSURANCE & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

  • Insurance
  • Economic Development, Tourism & Financial Services

 

Randy McDaniel (R) – CHAIR

Charles Ortega (R) – VICE CHAIR

Charles Key (R)

Dan Kirby (R)

Glen Mulready (R)

Skye McNiel (R)

David Dank (R)

Pat Ownbey (R)

Mike Shelton (D)

Richard Morrissette (D)

Anastasia Pittman (D)

 

CONFERENCE COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC SAFETY, JUDICIARY & MILITARY AFFAIRS

  • Public Safety
  • Judiciary
  • Veterans & Military Affairs

 

Sue Tibbs (R) – CHAIR

Fred Jordan (R) – VICE CHAIR

Steve Martin (R)

Colby Schwartz (R)

Paul Wesselhoft (R)

Lewis Moore (R)

Mark McCullough (R)

Dan Sullivan (R)

Dustin Roberts (R)

Richard Morrissette (D)

Ben Sherrer (D)

Cory Williams (D)

Paul Roan (D)

 

CONFERENCE COMMITTEE ON REDISTRICTING

  • Redistricting

 

Dale DeWitt (R) – CHAIR

Danny Morgan (D) – VICE CHAIR

David Dank (R)

Tom Newell (R)

Randy McDaniel (R)

Doug Cox (R)

George Faught (R)

Marty Quinn (R)

Ron Peters (R)

Jadine Nollan (R)

John Trebilcock (R)

Don Armes (R)

Lisa Billy (R)

Scott Martin (R)

Jeff Hickman (R)

Dennis Casey (R)

Sean Roberts (R)

Mike Jackson (R)

Scott Inman (D)

Anatasia Pittman (D)

Paul Roan (D)

Chuck Hoskin (D)

Jabar Shumate (D)

Wade Rousselot (D)

Wes Hilliard (D)

Emily Virgin (D)

Purcy Walker (D)

 

GENERAL CONFERENCE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS

 

Earl Sears (R) – CHAIR

Scott Martin (R) – VICE-CHAIR

Don Armes (R)

Lisa Billy (R)

Gus Blackwell (R)

Doug Cox (R)

David Dank (R)

Lee Denney (R)

Dale DeWitt (R)

Guy Liebmann (R)

Ron Peters (R)

Dan Sullivan (R)

Mike Brown (D)

Joe Dorman (D)

Chuck Hoskin (D)

Jerry McPeak (D)

Purcy Walker (D)

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