Legislative Staff Release
In a spirit of bipartisanship the day following Oklahoma’s Primary Elections, state Rep. Joe Dorman, Democratic Speaker Pro Tempore-designate, praised Republican House Speaker-designate Kris Steele’s call for reforming the conference committee process in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
“I applaud Representative Steele for taking a stand on this important issue and I think reform will be a true bi-partisan effort,” said Dorman, of Rush Springs. “I know many of us House members who were not around in the so-called ‘good ol’ days’ want to see change that opens up the system and have real transparency.”
Today, Steele, from Shawnee, announced that he plans to put in place a hard 24-hour rule that will require a House conference committee report to be filed and posted online for a full day before it can be considered on the House floor.
Steele also plans for all conference committee reports to be posted online with a link to the previous versions of the bill so changes can be more easily spotted.
In addition, Steele said he will form a working group to study the processes used in other states and consider additional reforms to open state government to greater public scrutiny. Among other things, that group will consider the option of opening the conference committee process to actual meetings and votes on conference committee reports.
Dorman, who has previously called for reforming the conference committee process to increase scrutiny, said open meetings would be crucial to open-government efforts that increase public confidence in the system.
“It is critical that conference committees actually hold public meetings with 24 hour advance notice, and that lawmakers on those committees actually sit down, discuss the contents of the legislation and publicly vote on conference committee reports,” Dorman said. “By putting those actions in public view, we can reduce the opportunity for future controversies and scandals that have sprung forth from the current secretive conference committee process.”
Dorman will begin service in his ninth year of elective office as a state representative this November after being re-elected without opposition from House District 65. He previously served as a legislative staffer for almost seven years.
“This is a major step in the right direction and the first talk of serious legislative accountability we have heard in years,” said Dorman. “I look forward to contributing ideas to this study group, whether I serve on it or not, and reading the proposed rule changes for the next Legislature.”