Vote set to determine House rules

Vote set to determine House rules

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A proposal that some lawmakers say would eliminate a major transparency reform in the House is up for a vote by state representatives Thursday.  The legislation would abolish the "calendar committee," which is responsible for sending bills through to the house floor leader.

The committee was put in place by former House Speaker T.W. Shannon.  State Representative Jason Murphey (R, Guthrie) says the committee removed power from the Speaker's office and put it in the hands of a bipartisan committee. 

"If this committee is successfully abolished the power transfers to the Speaker of the House," Murphey told Fox 25, "That's an awful lot of power to be given to one person and it will mean that decisions on what bills will be heard will be made in private in secret and outside of public purview."

"This actually makes the process more transparent," said Representative Mike Reynolds (R, Oklahoma City) who presented the measure to the Rules Committee on behalf of Speaker Jeff Hickman.

"Now we don't have another committee preventing bills from going to the floor," Reynolds told Fox 25 after the committee voted to approve the change in House rules.

"Representative Reynolds is absolutely wrong on this," Murphey said, "The abolishment on the committee means one person makes a decision in a backroom instead of a committee taking a public vote in the light of day with the transparency of a public vote."

"The members over the last several weeks, Democrats and Republicans, have come to me and made that request," Speaker Hickman (R, Fairview) said, "So that was not my idea by any means it came from members of the House."

Speaker Hickman said while the legislation bears his name, it is not his desire to add more power to the Speaker's office.  Instead he says the proposal would eliminate an unnecessary step in the process.  The Speaker said that even with the calendar committee in place, the final decisions on what bills got heard still required the approval of the floor leader.  That process will not change and Hickman says members of the House will still play a part in the process of deciding on which bills get heard.

"The members will still be doing that we'll just do it with the assistant floor leaders in more of an informal process than through a calendar committee," Hickman told Fox 25.  However the Speaker said those meeting are conducted in an office rather than a public forum.

The full House is schedule to debate and vote on the rule changes Thursday.

 

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