The Edmond Sun

Opinion

February 11, 2013

Giving up absolute power in the House

GUTHRIE — Many taxpayers believe the Legislature operates as described in American Government class. They learn that a bill becomes law after first being approved in a committee, then by votes in the House and Senate, and finally being signed by the governor. Imagine the shock of the newly elected representative when he discovers that the Legislature is a different environment than described above.

He can sponsor a bill, convince the chairman of a committee to give his bill a hearing (not always an easy task), present the bill before a committee, and successfully convince a majority of the committee to vote for passage. Because he is new, the representative can be forgiven for making the assumption that his bill will now go to the entire House for a vote. After all, an entire committee has approved the bill, so naturally the bill will proceed to the next step, right?

Actually, this isn’t how it works.

Unfortunately, the new representative may learn the hard way that one individual has unilateral authority over his bill. There is absolutely no requirement for the Speaker of the House to schedule the bill for a vote on the floor of the House. He can kill the bill for any reason. Without his consent, a bill cannot live.

The Speaker has absolute power over House bills. Or he did, until last Monday. Last Monday, everything changed.

During the past few weeks, I have enjoyed serving on a committee tasked with reforming House rules. I observed as Speaker of the House T.W. Shannon commissioned the committee’s work and seeded the idea for dissolving absolute power from the speaker to the members of the Legislature.

Under the leadership of Speaker Pro Tempore Mike Jackson, the committee worked out a process for commissioning a House calendar committee with the responsibility of determining which bills are scheduled for a vote of the House. The committee contains House members from both political parties and has public meetings where the members must hold a recorded vote on the slate of bills to go before the House.

These decisions are no longer behind closed doors, nor are they made by one man.

As you might imagine, this proposal wasn’t uniformly popular. Those who have become comfortable with the status quo know that the House will never be able to justify going back to the old way of doing things. And they are correct. However, this didn’t stop Rep. Jackson from defending the idea with an inspirational appeal to the legislators to put the transparencies in place because it is the right thing to do.

The proposal was approved by the House of Representatives last Monday and minutes later, the first meeting of the new committee was called to order. It was a historic moment that I was honored to be a part of.

By giving up absolute power, the new leaders of the House of Representative are demonstrating that their motivation isn’t to gain and keep power, but to seek to implement good policy. Their actions have forever improved the legislative process in Oklahoma, and the positive implications of this action will last for years to come.

REP. JASON MURPHEY, R-Guthrie, represents House District 31, which encompasses all of Logan County and a portion of northern Edmond. He may be reached via email at jason.murphey@okhouse.gov, on Facebook at facebook.com/JasonMurphey and Twitter.com/JWMurphey.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • New Orleans features its own “Running of the Bulls”

    On July12, the streets of the Warehouse District of New Orleans were filled with thousands of young men who were seeking to avoid being hit with plastic bats wielded by women on roller skates as part of the annual “Running of the Bulls” that takes place in New Orleans.
    The event is based on the “Running of the Bulls” that occurs in Pamplona, Spain, that is  part of an annual occurrence in which a group of bulls rampage through the streets of Pamplona while men run from them to avoid being gored by their sharp horns. That event was introduced to the English-speaking world by Ernest Hemingway, who included scenes from it in his critically acclaimed 1926 novel “The Sun also Rises.”

    July 22, 2014

  • OTHER VIEW: Newsday: Lapses on deadly diseases demand explanation

    When we heard that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had created a potentially lethal safety risk by improperly sending deadly pathogens — like anthrax — to other laboratories around the country, our first reaction was disbelief.

    July 22, 2014

  • Holding government accountable for open meeting violations

    A few weeks ago I wrote about the recent success of three important government transparency proposals which will go into law this year.

    July 21, 2014

  • GUEST OPINION — Oklahoma GOP voters want educational choices

    A Braun Research survey released in January showed that Oklahoma voters — Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike — favor parental choice in education.

    July 21, 2014

  • HEY HINK: IRS interferes with citizens’ rights of free speech

    The patient is gravely ill. We have detected traces of a deadly venom in the bloodstream. We don’t know how widespread the poison is, but we know, if not counteracted, toxins of this kind can rot the patient’s vital organs and could ultimately prove fatal.

    July 19, 2014

  • 130408_NT_BEA_good kids We're raising a generation of timid kids

    A week ago, a woman was charged with leaving her child in the car while she went into a store. Her 11-year-old child. This week, a woman was arrested for allowing her 9-year-old daughter to go to the park alone. Which raises just one question: America, what the heck is wrong with you?

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • RedBlueAmerica: What should the U.S. do about illegal immigrant children?

    The crisis along the southern U.S. border has politicians and immigration officials scrambling. More than 52,000 children, mostly from Central American nations, have arrived so far this year. The Department of Homeland Security is running out of space to hold them all.
    President Barack Obama is asking Congress for $3.7 billion in borrowed money from taxpayers to cover the growing “care, feeding and transportation costs of unaccompanied children and family groups” when our own veterans are not taken care of. Texas Gov. Rick Perry criticized the president’s plan, saying more money should go toward securing the border.

    July 17, 2014

  • VA scandal highlights the need to change Pentagon spending priorities

    The ongoing Department of Veterans Affairs scandal raises an important question: When our veterans are being denied access to basic health care, why is the Pentagon squandering billions of dollars on programs that do not benefit our military forces? Is there a link in organization attitudes?

    July 16, 2014

  • For better politics, it’s time for some raging moderates

    Like more than 20 percent of my fellow Californians, I am now classified as a no-party-preference voter, registered to vote but with no affiliation to any of the state’s political parties.
    I am for lower taxes and for marriage equality. I am tough on crime and I am anti-abortion. I believe that a pathway to citizenship is a necessary part of immigration reform and that student test scores should be a critical component of teacher evaluations.

    July 15, 2014

  • Father on mission to stop gun violence

    Since his son died six weeks ago as collateral damage to a troubled young man’s wish for vengeance, Richard Martinez has been asked whom he holds responsible.
    “I’m responsible,” the California lawyer answers, referring to most Americans’ failure to push harder to change gun laws after earlier mass shootings. “All those kids died and none of us did anything.”

    July 14, 2014

Poll

If the Republican runoff for the 5th District congressional seat were today, which candidate would you vote for?

Patrice Douglas
Steve Russell
Undecided
     View Results