President pro tempore of the Oklahoma Senate

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President Pro Tempore of the Oklahoma Senate
OKSenateChamber.jpg
Incumbent
Brian Bingman
Appointer Elected by the Oklahoma Senate
Inaugural holder Henry S. Johnston
Formation Oklahoma Constitution
1907
Succession 2nd
Seal of Oklahoma.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Oklahoma

The President pro tempore of the Oklahoma Senate is the second-highest-ranking official of the Oklahoma Senate and the highest-ranking state senator. The Oklahoma Constitution designates the Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma as the highest-ranking official, serving ex officio as President of the Senate, even though he or she only votes in the case of a tie. During the lieutenant governor's absence, the president pro tempore presides over sessions. The lieutenant governor presides over sessions devoted to ceremonial purposes, while the bulk of the management and political power is reserved for the president pro tempore.

The office of president pro tempore was created upon the ratification of the state constitution in 1907. The president pro tempore is popularly elected by the state senators, unlike the custom of the United States Senate where the most senior senator in the majority party serves as president pro tempore. As of 2013, every Oklahoma president pro tempore has been a member of the majority party, though it is not a constitutional requirement.

The president pro tempore is second in gubernatorial line of succession in Oklahoma, behind the lieutenant governor. The president pro tempore’s counterpart in the lower house of the Oklahoma Legislature is the Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

Powers and duties[edit]

Although the president pro tempore is not the only state senator that can serve as a presiding officer, he holds the power to assign the presiding officer in his absence. During session, the presiding officer controls the flow of debate on the Oklahoma Senate floor, decides questions of order, seats the chamber, calls members to order for violating rules, and approves claims for supplies and services. He or she is responsible for maintaining decorum and enforcing the rules. The lieutenant governor presides over session in ceremonial instances such as the governor's State of the State speech. On the floor of the Oklahoma Senate, the presiding officer is always addressed as "Mister President" regardless of whether or not he is in fact the senate president or president pro tempore.

The president pro tempore designates the number of committees and appoints committee leadership and membership. He or she determines bill assignment to committees and is an ex officio voting member that can participate in committee votes.

As a state senator, the president pro tempore is entitled to participate in debate and to vote.

The state legislature may be called into special session by a written call signed by two-thirds of the members of the Oklahoma Senate and two-thirds of the members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Once conditions are met, the call is filed with the president pro tempore and the speaker who must issue a join order for the convening of the special session.

According to Section 16 of Article Six of the Oklahoma Constitution, the president pro tempore is second in the gubernatorial line of succession behind the lieutenant governor.

History[edit]

Henry S. Johnston served as Oklahoma's first president pro tempore

Democratic control (1907-2007)[edit]

Henry S. Johnston, of Perry, was sworn into office as the first president pro tempore on November 16, 1907, the same day Oklahoma was admitted U.S. state.[1] He served a single term and was replaced by J. C. Graham in 1909.[2]

A painting by Mike Wimmer depicts Stratton Taylor, Oklahoma's longest-serving president pro tempore

For its first 60 years, no one person ever held the office for more than one term consecutively. Tom Anglin of Holdenville, Oklahoma, was the first to hold the office a second time, serving from 1923 to 1925 and again from 1943 to 1945.[2] Clem McSpadden was the first president pro tempore to serve two consecutive terms, from 1965 to 1969.[2]

From 1965 to 2006, ten state senators have been selected to serve as president pro tempore over the 41-year period that would have allowed for the election of 22 presidents pro tempore.[2] Of those ten, only James E. Hamilton of Poteau, Oklahoma, and Cal Hobson of Lexington, Oklahoma, served only one full single term.[2] Hamilton was an unsuccessful candidate for the United States Senate in 1980, and he eventually returned to politics as a state representative, where he chaired the appropriations committee. Hobson won reelection to the office of president pro tempore, but resigned shortly thereafter when the Oklahoma Senate Democratic Caucus voted to allow him to resign or be ousted due to alcohol abuse during the 2005 legislative session. After completing his treatment for alcoholism, Hobson sought unsuccessfully to be the Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma in 2006.

Four presidents pro tempore have served two consecutive terms and two have served three consecutive terms. As of 2013, Stratton Taylor holds the record of four consecutive terms. Taylor held the office for eight years, 1995 to 2003, serving as the president pro tempore under the entire administration of Governor Frank Keating.[3]

Evenly divided (2007-2009)[edit]

Glenn Coffee was a co-president pro tempore as part of a power-sharing agreement and went on to become the state's first Republican president pro tempore

Following the 2006 elections, the number of state senators was split evenly between the two major political parties; there were 24 Democratic senators and 24 Republican senators.[4] The election of Democratic candidate Jari Askins as the Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma, the ex officio President of the Senate, gave the Oklahoma Senate Democrats a single-vote majority.

The Oklahoma Constitution specifically states that only one state senator can be elected as president pro tempore. To address the historic tie, a power sharing agreement was reached that created the "co-president pro tempore." Under this agreement, Democratic State Senator Mike Morgan of Stillwater served as the president pro tempore of the Senate and Republican State Senator Glenn Coffee of Oklahoma City served as co-president pro tempore. Coffee switched places with Morgan for one month, July of 2007, to symbolize the unity between the two parties. While Coffee held the office of president pro tempore in July, Morgan served as the co-president pro tempore.

Morgan and Coffee took turns presiding over the Oklahoma Senate and, under the agreement, Morgan only had appointment authority as long as Coffee assented to the appointment, effectively making them both fully vested with the duties and rights of president pro tempore. Additionally, under the agreement, should the Governor of Oklahoma and Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma both have been absent from the state, Morgan would have served as the acting governor except for the one month of July, 2007.

Republican control (2009-present)[edit]

Following the 2008 elections, the Republicans won control of the Senate for the first time in state history, with 26 Republicans and 22 Democrats. They selected Glenn Coffee to serve as the first full President pro tempore who served from 2009-2011 when he was term-limited out and was selected to serve as Secretary of State in Governor Mary Fallin's administration. Brian Bingman is the current President pro tempore.

List of Presidents pro tempore[edit]

The complete (as of 2011) list of Presidents pro tempore is below. Note: All locations are in Oklahoma.

# President pro tempore Party Hometown Legislature Start of service End of service
1 Henry S. Johnston Democrat Perry 1st 1907 1909
2 J.C. Graham Democrat Marietta 2nd 1909 1911
3 Elmer Thomas Democrat Lawton 3rd 1911 1913
4 C.B. Kendrick Democrat Ardmore 4th 1913 1915
5 E.L. Mitchell Democrat Cheyenne 5th 1915 1917
6 C.W. Board Democrat Okemah 6th 1917 1919
7 R.L. Davidson Democrat Tulsa 7th 1919 1921
8 T.C. Simpson Democrat Thomas 8th 1921 1923
9 Tom Anglin Democrat Holdenville 9th 1923 1925
10 William J. Holloway Democrat Hugo 10th 1925 1927
11 Mac Q. Williamson Democrat Pauls Valley 11th 1927 1929
12 C.S. Storms Democrat Waurika 12th 1929 1931
13 W.G. Stigler Democrat Stigler 13th 1931 1933
14 Paul Stewart Democrat Antlers 14th 1933 1935
15 Claud Briggs Democrat Wilburton 15th 1935 1937
16 Allen G. Nichols Democrat Wewoka 16th 1937 1939
17 Jim A. Rinehart Democrat El Reno 17th 1939 1941
18 H.M. Curnutt Democrat Barnsdall 18th 1941 1941
19 Ray C. Jones Democrat Barnsdall 19th 1941 1942
20 Tom Anglin Democrat Holdenville 20th 1943 1945
21 Homer Paul Democrat Pauls Valley 20th 1945 1947
22 James C. Nance Democrat Purcell 21st 1947 1949
23 Bill Logan Democrat Lawton 22nd 1949 1951
24 Boyd Cowden Democrat Chandler 23rd 1951 1953
25 Raymond Gary Democrat Madill 24th 1953 1955
26 Ray Fine Democrat Gore 25th 1955 1957
27 Don Baldwin Democrat Anadarko 26th 1957 1959
28 Harold Garvin Democrat Duncan 27th 1959 1961
29 Everett C. Boecher Democrat Sapulpa 28th 1961 1963
30 Roy C. Boecher Democrat Kingfisher 29th 1963 1965
31 Clem McSpadden Democrat Chelsea 30th 1965 1969
31st
32 Finis Smith Democrat Tulsa 32nd 1969 1973
33rd
33 James E. Hamilton Democrat Poteau 34th 1973 1975
34 Gene C. Howard Democrat Tulsa 35th 1975 1981
36th
37th
35 Marvin York Democrat Oklahoma City 38th 1981 1985
39th
36 Rodger Randle Democrat Tulsa 40th 1985 1988
41st
37 Robert V. Cullison Democrat Skiatook 42nd 1988 1995
43rd
44th
38 Stratton Taylor Democrat Claremore 45th 1995 2003
46th
47th
48th
39 Cal Hobson Democrat Lexington 49th 2003 2005
40 Mike Morgan Democrat Stillwater 50th 2005 July 1, 2007
51st
41 Glenn Coffee Republican Oklahoma City 51st July 1, 2007 July 31, 2007
42 Mike Morgan Democrat Stillwater 51st August 1, 2007 2009
43 Glenn Coffee Republican Oklahoma City 52nd 2009 2011
44 Brian Bingman Republican Sapulpa 53rd 2011 2015

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Burke, Bob. JOHNSTON, HENRY SIMPSON (1867-1965), Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. (accessed July 1, 2013)
  2. ^ a b c d e 2005 Oklahoma Almanac, Oklahoma Department of Libraries (accessed July 23, 2013)
  3. ^ Senator Stratton Taylor, Oklahoma Senate (accessed July 22, 2013)
  4. ^ Krehbiel, Randy. GOP victories create a tie in state Senate, Tulsa World, November 8, 2006 (accessed July 23, 2013)

External links[edit]