A proposal that some lawmakers say would eliminate amajor transparency reform in the House is up for a vote by staterepresentatives Thursday. The legislation would abolish the "calendarcommittee," which is responsible for sending bills through to the house floorleader.
The committee was put in place by former House SpeakerT.W. Shannon. State Representative Jason Murphey (R, Guthrie) says thecommittee removed power from the Speaker's office and put it in the hands of abipartisan committee.
"If this committee is successfully abolished the powertransfers to the Speaker of the House," Murphey told Fox 25, "That's an awfullot of power to be given to one person and it will mean that decisions on whatbills will be heard will be made in private in secret and outside of publicpurview."
"This actually makes the process more transparent," saidRepresentative Mike Reynolds (R, Oklahoma City) who presented the measure tothe Rules Committee on behalf of Speaker Jeff Hickman.
"Now we don't have another committee preventing billsfrom going to the floor," Reynolds told Fox 25 after the committee voted toapprove the change in House rules.
"Representative Reynolds is absolutely wrong on this,"Murphey said, "The abolishment on the committee means one person makes adecision in a backroom instead of a committee taking a public vote in the lightof day with the transparency of a public vote."
"The members over the last several weeks, Democrats andRepublicans, have come to me and made that request," Speaker Hickman (R,Fairview) said, "So that was not my idea by any means it came from members ofthe House."
Speaker Hickman said while the legislation bears hisname, it is not his desire to add more power to the Speaker's office. Instead he says the proposal would eliminate an unnecessary step in theprocess. The Speaker said that even with the calendar committee in place,the final decisions on what bills got heard still required the approval of thefloor leader. That process will not change and Hickman says members ofthe House will still play a part in the process of deciding on which bills getheard.
"The members will still be doing that we'll just do itwith the assistant floor leaders in more of an informal process than through acalendar committee," Hickman told Fox 25. However the Speaker said thosemeeting are conducted in an office rather than a public forum.
The full House is schedule to debate and vote on the rulechanges Thursday.