Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Capitol Business: House Clears First Hurdle, but the Job's Not Over

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Capitol Business: House Clears First Hurdle, but the Job's Not Over

Article excerpt

Democrat fears that Republican firing of state House of Representatives staff members a week before the Jan. 20 deadline for pre-filing bills would lead to chaos did not come to fruition - at least yet.

The first major House step has been accomplished. Republican and Democrat members filed 1,089 bills, which is more than has been introduced in recent sessions. Excluding 190 appropriation measures, the average is about nine bills per legislator.

A rule limiting members to eight bills each can introduce is not totally restrictive. Members can submit more but after the first eight, subsequent measures go to the House Rules Committee with little chance of advancing.

House minority leader Jari Askins, D-Duncan, who called the firings a reign of terror by the Republican majority, expressed concern members might be shortchanged if they do not have adequate staff to draft the bills.

Obviously they were not.

It was more political hyperbole than realistic evaluation of the situation. Many experienced staffers remained and were able to get the initial job done.

New Speaker of the House Todd Hiett, R-Kellyville congratulated them on the timely processing of all bill requests.

The rhetorical Democratic whining followed more than two dozen staff members being fired, allowed to resign or retire. Hiett named Doug Enevoldson as his chief of staff. He immediately began replacing a number of House staffers.

Because of their long tenure under continued Democrat leadership, many apparently believed they held their jobs by divine right, forgetting they were employees at will, subject to the whims of the leadership.

Leadership of the House usually rotated every four to six years but stayed in the hands of Democrats. Staff changes were minimal.

Askins acknowledged the move among the top staff echelon might be expected, but decried the loss of experienced personnel.

To anyone familiar with politics, it should come as no surprise that a party taking control after 83 years would want to make numerous replacements. …

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