The Pryor Times

February 15, 2013

Jury out


Associated Press

— Its always nice to get past the first week of session and start getting down to business. The judiciary committee, which is usually the most active committee, has heard about

40 bills in the first

two weeks. I’ve been

fortunate to advance three bills from

committee early in the session, but there is still a long way to go.

New to the House Rules this year is an additional layer of screening (aka “bureaucracy”) in the committee process. It’s called the Calendar Committee. Bills passing out of a

standing committee now proceed to the Calendar Committee for a vote on whether the bill will be heard by the full House of Reps. Historically this job was left to the discretion of the Majority Floor Leader (with input from the Speaker of the House).

Now, the Majority Floor Leader presents a slate of bills to the Calendar Committee for a vote on the slate. Members of the

committee can file a motion to add / remove specific measures to / from the daily slate of bills. Thus far I’ve voted against 3 of the 6 slates presented because of objections to certain bills on

the slate(s). But as of now no

bill has been removed or stalled as of yet.

The Speaker’s appointment of me and Rep. Hoskin from Vinita  has significantly increased our workload at the Capitol. The big change is that we now have an additional 15-20 bills to review each evening in preparation for the calendar committee meeting the following morning at 8 a.m.

I’d say the jury is still out on the actual effectiveness of the committee - but it has the tremendous upside for me of ensuring that I’ve read each measure before it gets to the House floor. This actually helps me be well-

prepared - which has always been important to me. In addition,

the guesswork is

taken out with respect to which bills that passed a standing

committee will be

proceeding to the House floor.

It was great to have several visitors from home at the Capitol this week.  RSU President Larry Rice, Pryor Campus Director Sherry Alexander, and RSU Foundation Board Member Blaine Jones

visited at Higher Education Day on Tuesday. On Wednesday

I had the opportunity to visit with County Clerk Brittany True and County Assessor Lisa Melchior who were visiting on County Officers day at the Capitol. I also had a brief visit with Beth Long and Rebecca Clark from Creeoks Counseling in Pryor as they were advocating for behavioral health issues.

The Oklahoma Pharmacy Association had a health fair and I found out my cholesterol and blood pressure was ok, but my blood glucose was a little low - but I’m not sure what that means.

The final big event for my week was the acceptance of an original piece of art from Bee’s Knees, a therapeutic art

program geared toward artists with developmental disabilities. I’m proud to support this

program and the opportunities it provides. If you come to the Capitol make sure to stop by my office to see the beautiful works of art commissioned from Bee’s Knees.

Please feel free to

contact me at (800) 522-8502 or bensherrer@okhouse.gov with any questions or concerns about issues in the legislature. Until next week, God bless you.