Republican Leadership Calls for House Ethics Commission

Article excerpt

An interim study on creation of an ethics committee within the Oklahoma House of Representatives was proposed Thursday by Republican leadership.

At a capitol news conference, House Minority Leader Joe Heaton, R-Oklahoma City, also proposed major changes in the legislative committee process.

The proposals came in the wake of this week's overthrow of House Speaker Jim Barker, D-Muskogee, and his replacement by Rep. Steve Lewis, D-Shawnee.

The ouster, Heaton said, "was based on not just a desire for a change in leadership style, but fundamental changes in the way the House of Representatives operates."

Lewis pledged to be more responsive and open to minority party members, Heaton said.

"At this point we take what he says at face value, and we wanted to throw out some seeds and see what grew."

This "seed" would create a six-member House Ethics Committee. Three would be elected by a majority of Democrats, and three by a Republican majority.

The committee would investigate possible misconduct of members and recommend disciplinary action. It could privately reprimand House members for minor infractions, or it could recommend expulsion or public reprimand to the full House for action. …

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