Oklahoma House Speaker Kris Steele Plots Change to Conference Committee Process

Article excerpt

Members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives could see the conference committee process dramatically changed under new rules being proposed by incoming House Speaker Kris Steele.

Steele, R-Shawnee, announced the plan this week.

He said the procedure would make the legislative process more transparent and open to the public. Steele said he would enforce a 24-hour rule requiring a House conference committee report to be filed and posted online for a full day before it can be considered on the House floor.

At present, House rules require House conference committee reports to be posted on the calendar for at least 24 hours for review, but that rule is waived in the last two days of session.

"In recent years, House Republicans have made tremendous strides in making our government more open and transparent than ever before. I want to build on those reforms as we seek to do business in a way that best meets our state's needs as openly as possible, while including technological advances that allow us to be more user- friendly with the public," Steele said. "It is critical that as a state we continue to advance and not get stuck in antiquated processes simply because they have always been done a certain way. I am serious about bold reform and plan to continue to evaluate the legislative process, including conference committee reports, to determine if other changes are needed."

Next year's conference committee reports, Steele said, would be posted online for member and public review, and would also contain a link to the previous versions of the bill so changes could be more easily spotted. Steele said he would form a working group over the interim to study the processes used in other states to see if additional changes are needed to make government more open and efficient. …