Steele welcomes rules reform proposals from ‘all members’ of the House
By Patrick B. McGuigan
Today (Tuesday, January 25), Democratic leaders in the Oklahoma House submitted to Speaker Kris Steele 15 recommendations designed, they said, in a statement sent to CapitolBeatOK, to “ensure transparency, accountability and equity in House Rules.”
Minority Leaders Scott Inman of Del City said, “The House Rules in place [have] allowed procedural maneuvers to preemptively deny a fair hearing of legislation and at the same time [have] empowered a few legislators to make backroom deals benefitting special interests. Our recommendations revolve around these concerns, and I hope to see them implemented in the coming session.”
Inman and Democratic Floor Leader Chuck Hoskin of Vinita said they received input from Members of the Caucus and drafted a letter calling for adoption of those suggestions, including a variation of the 24-hour rule (requiring at least 24 hours for consideration of legislative proposals).
In November, Steele appointed a team of four Republicans to study potential rules reform and transparency issues (http://www.www.capitolbeatok.com/_webapp_3648359/Steele_names_transparency_working_group).
Asked to respond to the Inman-Hoskin letter, Steele told CapitolBeatOK, “I have encouraged all members of the House interested in reforming the legislative process to submit their ideas, and I appreciate all suggestions.”
The two Democratic leaders said a priority of their caucus is “ensuring that conference committee reports be heard in their committee of origin, that these committee meetings be public, and that they be scheduled at least twenty-four hours in advance to allow attendance by interested parties.”
Steele observed, “The working group
(http://www.www.capitolbeatok.com/_webapp_3193832/Speaker-Designate_proposes_changes_to_conference_process) appointed to develop proposals for reforming House rules should complete its work soon, and I am confident the end result of their efforts will be a more transparent and open legislative process.”
In his statement, Inman touted the recommendations from his caucus, saying: “What we have here is too many bills being thrown on the floor calendar with little to no time for legislators to read or review the latest version of the bill. On deadline weeks, and the last day of session, bills are added to the calendar and immediately brought up on the House floor, and we’re not given the time to make well-informed decisions on measures before being asked to vote on them.”
Steele did not respond to every point made in the Inman-Hoskin press release, having issued statements encouraging greater openness in the House process last summer. Today, he told CapitolBeatOK, “I believe increased public scrutiny and oversight is vital to a healthy democracy, and I am serious about enacting bold reform this year.”