Oklahoma House of Representatives
|Oklahoma House of Representatives|
|Oklahoma State Legislature|
|12-year cumulative total, in either or both chambers|
New session started
Majority Floor Leader
Pam Peterson (R)
since January 8, 2013
|Republican Party (72)
Democratic Party (29)
Length of term
|Authority||Article V, Oklahoma Constitution|
|Salary||$38,400/year + per diem|
|November 6, 2012
|November 4, 2014
|House of Representatives Chamber
Oklahoma State Capitol
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
|Oklahoma House of Representatives|
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
The Oklahoma House of Representatives is the lower house of the legislature of the U.S. state of Oklahoma. Its members introduce and vote on bills and resolutions, provide legislative oversight for state agencies, and help to craft the state's budget. The upper house of the Oklahoma Legislature is the Oklahoma Senate.
The Oklahoma Constitution established the powers of the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 1907. Voters further amended those power through constitutional referenda. One referendum required legislators to balance the annual state budget. Others specified the length and dates of the legislative session. Today, there are 101 House members, each representing a legislative district. District boundaries are redrawn every decade to ensure districts of equal population.
One must be 21 years of age at the time of their election and a qualified elector and resident of their legislative district to serve in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. The state holds district elections every two years coincident with federal elections and special elections to fill vacant seats. The House meets from early February until the last Friday in May. Members elect a Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives as the presiding officer and a Speaker Pro Tempore, who serves as the presiding officer in his absence. Members organize in political party-based caucuses to develop partisan policy agendas.
After the 2012 election, Republicans hold over two-thirds of the House seats.
- 1 History
- 2 Powers and legislative process
- 3 Party composition
- 4 Organization
- 5 Membership
- 6 Members, 2013–2014
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The Oklahoma Constitution established both the Oklahoma House of Representatives and Oklahoma Senate in 1907. It met in Guthrie until 1910. William H. Murray was the first Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Less than 50 legislative employees aided lawmakers in the first year.
A weakening of the Democratic coalition leading up to the 1908 election allowed Republicans to make gains in the Oklahoma House. Republicans gained an even third of the legislative seats. The largest gains came in Holdenville, Okmulgee, and Guthrie, each of which had a sizable black population.
The Oklahoma Democratic lawmakers of the early 1900s opposed integration. The first legislature passed legislation that made it almost impossible for African-Americans to vote. The legislature's first black member, A. C. Hamlin, served only one term, though he did gain the support of his fellow lawmakers to fund a black school in his district and create more equal accommodations for black and white railroad passengers.
The Democratic Party also pushed to make Oklahoma City the capital over Guthrie, a Republican and black voting stronghold.
In 1913, a House investigative committee forced the resignation of the state auditor and impeached the state printer and insurance commissioner. The legislature at the time included Democratic members who were angry at then Governor Lee Cruce over his veto of a redistricting plan that would have gerrymandered Congressional districts and his attempt to remove public institutions established by earlier legislatures. Cruce escaped an impeachment trial by one vote of the House investigative committee.
Women earned the right to vote in Oklahoma in 1918 through a constitutional amendment approved by voters. In 1920, Bessie McColgin became the first woman elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives. A Republican, McColgin and her female colleague in the Oklahoma Senate, focused on the passage of public health bills, but failed in many of their efforts.
After eight Democratic-controlled legislatures, Republicans took the majority from 1921-1923 and elected George B. Schwabe as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. The Republican-dominated House brought impeachment charges against Lieutenant Governor Martin Trapp and narrowly failed to approve impeachment charges against both the state treasurer and Oklahoma Governor James Roberts. The Democratic-dominated Senate did not sustain the impeachment charges against Trapp.
1930s through 1950s
A severe drought beginning in 1932 in western Oklahoma combined with land consolidation and mechanization in eastern Oklahoma drove farmers out of the state and left others in economic distress. Legislatures of the 1930s battled with governors William H. Murray and Ernest W. Marland, targeting Murray's efforts to generate relief for farmers and Marland's proposals to create a state public works program, reform the tax code and create unemployment insurance. Lawmakers did enact an old age pension system funded by a dedicated sales tax. The rejection of providing state matching funds for New Deal projects resulted in fewer projects. A conservative reaction developed in Oklahoma in the late 1930s and rejected further New Deal programs.
In 1941, Governor Leon C. Phillips pushed the state legislature to send a constitutional amendment to voters to force the Oklahoma House of Representatives to approve a balanced budget each year. Ever since voters approved the state question, the state legislature has been constitutionally required to pass a balanced budget.
1960s to present
The legislative sessions held by the Oklahoma House of Representatives and Oklahoma Senate changed due to two key legislative reforms in 1966 and 1989. In 1966, Oklahomans voted institute 90-day annual sessions. An initiative petition championed by Governor Henry Bellmon in 1989 further required the legislative sessions to end by 5 p.m. on the last Friday in May.
After earlier attempts to raise legislative pay failed, voters approved a state question in 1968 to create a board to set legislative compensation. It set compensation at $8,400 that year.
State legislators enacted Oklahoma's open meeting and open records laws in 1977, but made the Oklahoma House of Representatives exempt.
A shift in the behavior of Oklahoma voters occurred, beginning in the 1960s. Registered Democrats began to more often vote Republican, due to dissatisfaction with the liberal wing of the national party. After the 2004 Presidential Election, Republicans gained control of the House for the first time since 1921. In 2010, Republicans gained a large majority of 70 seats in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
Powers and legislative process
The Oklahoma House and the Oklahoma Senate are responsible for introducing and voting on bills and resolutions, providing legislative oversight for state agencies, and helping to craft the state's budget. Every ten years, legislators are responsible for designating new district boundaries for state electoral districts, along with Congressional districts. The governor must sign these bills into law, or a statewide panel convenes to draw the disputed lines.
Legislators, with staff support, develop and file bills prior to the legislative session. Bill sponsors submit requests for bill drafting to the professional staff of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. The staff ensure bills have proper legal language and meet constitutional requirements. The bills are filed with the chief clerk's office by a designated filing deadline. Since 1999, members of the Oklahoma House are limited to a maximum of eight bills that will receive a hearing.
A proposal may be introduced as a bill, a joint resolution, a concurrent resolution, or a simple resolution. Legislators use joint resolutions to propose a constitutional amendment. Concurrent resolutions (passed by both houses) and simple resolutions (passed by only one house) do not have the force of law. Instead, they serve to express the opinion of approving house of houses, or to regulate procedure. Article 5 Section 33A of the Oklahoma Constitution requires bills for raising revenue to originate in the Oklahoma House.
The Oklahoma House meets in regular session in the west wing of the Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City, from early February to the last Friday in May. Special sessions may be called by the governor, or by supermajority vote of the Legislature.
Bills receive a First Reading, where they are filed by title and published in the House Journal to make the public aware of them. They then undergo a Second Reading, after which they are assigned to committee. The committee system is designed to screen out legislation that is, in the committee's judgment, unnecessary or not ready for passage.
Committees either stop the progress of a bill or approve it for consideration on the floor of the House. When a bill is called up on the floor, either the principal author or a member of his choice will be recognized for the explanation of the bill. After a number of other potential procedures, a motion can be called to advance the bill and a vote is taken.
Fifty-one votes are required for bill passage on the floor of the Oklahoma House. Lawmakers also vote on whether or not to make the bill effective upon signature of the governor, which requires a two-thirds majority. Action on the floor is recorded in the House Journal.
Once approved on Third Reading, which is the name for this stage of the floor process, approved bills are sent to the Oklahoma Senate. If amended, bills will return to the Oklahoma House of Representatives for a Fourth Reading, but can go directly to the governor after Senate passage.
The Oklahoma House is not subject to the state's open meeting and open records laws due to provisions to exempt the state legislature in the 1977-enacted laws.
(Shading indicates majority caucus)
|End of previous legislature||67||31||98||3|
Leadership in the state House begins two leaders elected by their fellow lawmakers - the Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives and Speaker Pro Tempore. Party caucuses play a major role in this process by nominating candidates for key leadership positions.
After a speaker assumes office, he or she appoints a majority floor leader and a majority whip. The majority floor leader sets the floor calendar during session. The duties of the majority whip are to assist the floor leader, ensure member attendance, count votes, and communicate the majority position on issues.
The party caucuses elect assistant floor leaders, assistant whips, and caucus officers. Additionally, the minority party caucus elects a minority leader. The minority leader develops caucus positions, negotiates with the majority party caucus, and directs minority caucus activities on the chamber floor.
As of 2013, The Oklahoma House of Representatives has the 20 committees.
A non-partisan staff provides professional services for members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives in addition to the Oklahoma Legislative Service Bureau. Individual members are also assisted by partisan staff members, and those in leadership positions have additional partisan staff. Committees are staffed primarily by research and legal staff.
Terms and qualifications
In order to file for election to the Oklahoma House of Representatives, one must be 21 years of age at the time of their election and a qualified elector and resident of their legislative district. Officers of the United States or state government and individuals who have been adjudged guilty of a felony are not eligible to election to the Oklahoma Legislature. If a member of the Oklahoma Legislature is expelled for corruption, they are not eligible to return to legislative office.
State representatives serve a two-year term and are limited to six terms or 12 years. No member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives can serve more than 12 years in the Oklahoma Legislature. A term limited member can not run for election to the Senate as both Representative terms and Senate terms are added together in determining the total number of Legislative years in office. 
Salaries and benefits
Members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives receive $38,400 in annual pay. The Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives receives $56,332 in annual pay. The Speaker Pro Tempore, minority leader and appropriations chair receive $50,764 in annual pay. Pay is set a nine-member state board appointed by the governor, Speaker, and President Pro Tempore of the Oklahoma Senate.
State legislators can seek reimbursement for expenses related to meals, lodging, and travel related to their duties at any point during the year. They have access to benefits, including health and life insurance and retirement savings plans.
As of December 2012, members of the Republican Party hold more than a two-thirds majority of seats in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. There are 72 Republicans and 29 Democrats.
In 1964, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the original method spelled out in the state constitution violated the federal constitution. State lawmakers implemented a new method that continues to be used today. The Oklahoma House of Representatives is authorized to draw new district boundaries once every 10 years. Under the holding of Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533 (1964) districts must be apportioned within a five percent margin of the average target size district as determined by the U.S. Census population figures divided by the one hundred and one districts. This allows for certain districts to be slightly smaller or larger than others. The Oklahoma House of Representatives draws its own maps of its district lines, which are subject to the approval of both the state senate and the governor. Should the redistricting not occur in the time limits prescribed by law, the lines are determined by a panel of five statewide elected officials.
As of February 10, 2014, Jeff W. Hickman is serving his first term as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Mike Jackson, of Enid, Oklahoma, is the Speaker Pro Tempore. Pam Peterson serves as the Majority Floor Leader and Todd Thomsen is the Majority Whip. Fred Jordan and Dennis Johnson are designated as Majority Leaders and serve the purpose of managing communications between an increasingly large caucus in both the Oklahoma Senate and House.
Scott Martin serves as the chairman of the Appropriations and Budget Committee.
Notable past members
- Mary Fallin, current Governor of Oklahoma, former U.S. Congresswoman
- Dan Boren, former U.S. Congressman
- Ernest Istook, former U.S. Congressman
- Jari Askins, 15th Oklahoma lieutenant governor
- Ken A. Miller, current Oklahoma treasurer
- Glen D. Johnson, Jr., current Chancellor of Higher Education
- John Jarman, former U.S. Congressman
- Frank Keating, 25th governor of Oklahoma
- Henry Bellmon, 18th and 23rd governor of Oklahoma
- George Nigh, 17th and 22nd governor of Oklahoma
- David Boren, 21st governor of Oklahoma and former U.S. senator
- Leon C. Phillips, 11th governor of Oklahoma
- William H. Murray, 9th governor of Oklahoma
- John Newbold Camp, former U.S. Congressman
- Victor Wickersham, former U.S. Congressman
- Glen D. Johnson, former U.S. Congressman
- A. C. Hamlin, first African-American in Oklahoma Legislature
- Farmer, Rick, "Legislature," Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture (accessed June 23, 2010).
- "A Century to Remember", Oklahoma House of Representatives (accessed April 24, 2013)
- Scales, James R. and Danny Goble (1982). Oklahoma Politics: A History, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, p. 41-58.
- Bruce, Michael L. "Hamlin, Albert Comstock (1881-1912)", Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, Oklahoma Historical Society. (accessed April 17, 2013)
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- O'Dell, Larry. Robertson, James Brooks Ayers (1871-1938), Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture (accessed May 11, 2013)
- Burke, Bob. Johnston, Henry Simpson, Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture (accessed May 9, 2013)
- Bryant Jr., Keith L. New Deal, Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture (accessed May 9, 2013)
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- Kirkpatrick, Samuel A. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1978). The Legislative Process in Oklahoma, p. 8. ISBN 0-8061-1421-5
- Dean, Bryan. Oklahoma legislators consider making themselves subject to openness laws, Oklahoman, March 11, 2012. (accessed April 16, 2013)
- Kirkpatrick, Samuel A., David R. Morgan and Thomas G. Kielhorn (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1977. The Oklahoma Voter. ISBN 0-8061-1391-X
- McNutt, Michael. "Republicans select speaker designate" http://newsok.com/republicans-select-speaker-designate/article/2969390, The Oklahoman November 10, 2006.
- McNutt, Michael. "Oklahoma's legislative leaders pledge to work with Democrats", The Oklahoman, November 7, 2010.
- Redistricting, Oklahoma House of Representatives (accessed May 14, 2013)
- "Course of Bills", Oklahoma House of Representatives (accessed April 19, 2013)
- Kirkpatrick, Samuel A. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1978). The Legislative Process in Oklahoma, p. 109-111. ISBN 0-8061-1421-5
- "Legislative Organization," Inside the Legislative Process, National Conference of State Legislatures. (accessed January 3, 2014)
- "Legislative Organization: Legislative Leaders," Inside the Legislative Process, National Conference of State Legislatures. (accessed January 3, 2014)
- House Committees, Oklahoma House of Representatives (accessed January 2, 2013).
- "Legislative Committee Structure and Staffing Patterns," Southern Legislative Conference. (accessed January 3, 2014)
- Article V, Section 17: Age - Qualified electors - Residents, Constitution of the State of Oklahoma at Oklahoma Legal Research System, University of Oklahoma College of Law (accessed May 3, 2010).
- Section V-19: Expelled member ineligible - Punishment not to bar indictment, Constitution of the State of Oklahoma at Oklahoma Legal Research System, University of Oklahoma College of Law (accessed May 3, 2010).
- Section V-17A: Limitation of time served in the Legislature, Constitution of the State of Oklahoma at Oklahoma Legal Research System, University of Oklahoma College of Law (accessed May 3, 2010).
- 2013 Legislative Manual, Oklahoma House of Representatives, p. 24. (accessed May 16, 2013)
- "Membership". Oklahoma House of Representatives. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
- "Leadership". Oklahoma House of Representatives. Retrieved April 12, 2013.