Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

New Rules Aimed to Improve House Manners

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

New Rules Aimed to Improve House Manners

Article excerpt

Miss Manners would be proud of House Democrats for the changes they have in mind to make floor sessions more professional, quiet and courteous.

"One of my first orders of business is to improve the way we conduct our business in the Oklahoma House of Representatives," House Speaker Larry Adair, D-Stilwell, says. "These changes underscore my strong commitment to provide the leadership that will demonstrate to the public that we will conduct the people's business in a responsible and consistent manner."

Use of cellular telephones in the House Chamber will be banned, and ringers on any cell phones will have to be turned off when lawmakers are in the chamber. Members will be required to step outside the chamber to make or receive telephone calls. House members will not be permitted to stand around in the chamber and converse while bills are being presented. While business is being transacted, conversations will be allowed only at the rear of the chamber or outside.

During the daily prayer, silence will be maintained in the foyer.

Members will be discouraged from leaving the floor of the chamber to talk with visitors. During floor deliberations, individuals will be encouraged to deliver their messages to members through legislative assistants.

The House will continue requiring its members, when presenting compromise measures reported out of conference committees, to outline any major changes from the previous version considered on the House floor. The practice of requiring a summary of major changes in different versions of conference committee reports was recommended last year by Rep. Russ Roach, D-Tulsa, who chairs the House Rules Committee.

Adair also wants to substantially limit the number of "shell" bills considered by the House. He has directed House committee and subcommittee chairs to disregard bills with no substantive content. Legislators frequently file empty shell bills and insert operative language later.

Exceptions will be granted for committee bills -- a new concept for the Oklahoma House -- and appropriations measures authored by the chair of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee. …

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