OKLAHOMA CITY – Most of the 22 new lawmakers recently elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives attended the first day of a two-day orientation session at the state Capitol on Monday to learn the ins and outs of the legislative process and meet the House staff.
Freshman lawmakers were instructed on how to use the electronic filing system to file a bill and how to present a bill in committee and on the House floor. The House parliamentarian instructed lawmakers on how to make a motion and covered some of the most common procedural issues that arise. The lawmakers also met House staff and learned what each division’s duties are in the legislative process. Tomorrow, the new members will learn how the state budget is put together and will hear from representatives within the Oklahoma Ethics Commission to discuss relevant ethics rules.
State Rep. Jeff Coody has a better understanding than most on what to expect. His mother, state Rep. Ann Coody, represents House District 64 at the Legislature. Still, he said the orientation exposed him to things that don’t often come up in conversations with his mother.
“There really is a lot to learn in order to be an effective representative for my constituents,” said Coody, R-Lawton. “It’s much more than just having a good idea for a bill and presenting it for a vote. There is a lot of procedural maneuvering and understanding of the rules that may be the difference between getting a bill passed or not, so I’m grateful that the House offers this to us so we can hit the ground running in February.”
Coody, an insurance agent from Lawton, was elected to House District 63 to replace former state Rep. Don Armes, who was term limited and unable to run for legislative office again.
Oklahoma City college professor and businessman Jason Dunnington said the day-long orientation was helpful for new lawmakers who often have a very limited understanding of how the process of legislating actually works.
“I think most of us have a very good idea of what takes place here at the Capitol, but there are so many long-standing rules and procedures for actually getting things done here that you have to get a head start,” said Dunnington, D-Oklahoma City. “It would be very difficult to show up on the first day of session without having first been exposed to some of these processes. Also, it was very helpful to meet the staff and get an idea of who to go to when I need assistance with something.”
Dunnington was elected to House District 88 and replaces former state Rep. Kay Floyd, who ran for and won a seat in the state Senate.
Representatives Coody and Dunnington, and their new colleagues, still have much to do before the 2015 legislative session begins. The deadline for requesting bills is this Friday, December 12, and the deadline for filing bills is January 22, 2015.
On Tuesday, January 6, the Legislature will meet for Organization Day, a Constitutionally required day for the Oklahoma House to meet, certify the members of the recently elected 55th Oklahoma Legislature and then officially nominate and vote on a new House Speaker and Speaker Pro-Tem for the upcoming legislative session that begins in February.
The 55th Oklahoma Legislature convenes on February 2, 2015 at noon.