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Oklahoma State Senate
President Pro Tempore Designate
Senator Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City
State Capitol Room 422
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105
(405) 521-5636

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For Immediate Release: January 6, 2009

Sen. Glenn Coffee
Sen. Glenn Coffee

Senate Reforms to Reflect Will of Oklahoma Voters
Government will be more open, accessible, accountable

Newly elected President Pro-Tempore Glenn Coffee announced Tuesday that long-awaited reform will be coming to the Legislature this session. Upon Coffee’s election as the new President Pro Tempore of the State Senate, the Senate approved new Senate rules for governing its legislative body.

Among key reforms will be a requirement that any new state insurance and revenue measures will require an actuarial study, before legislators vote on any such measure, reflecting the financial impact on policyholders and state agencies.

“Just as impact studies are required for any tax increase or reduction, it is only fair that those empowered with mandating consumer expenses know what the impact of their actions will be,” said Majority Floor Leader Todd Lamb. “We take very seriously the business of expending dollars – be they public or private dollars -- and their impact on the people who put us in this position, the citizens of our state.”

In addition, a new Senate rule to promote openness will require committee substitute amendments to be filed with the chairman and made available to the public prior to a committee meeting. Further, committee hearings will be scheduled in such a way that Senators and citizens alike will be more able to attend and monitor the public deliberations on legislation. Under previous leadership, scheduled hearings often overlapped, making such openness and availability unattainable. The new process will provide members with an ample amount of time to focus on issues within their committees, and not rush through their agendas; and will give the public more access to the process.

Also, Senate rules will now give the Senate the flexibility to meet away from the Capitol building if Senators are prevented from meeting at the Capitol due to a natural disaster or terrorist attack.

Several good-government reforms that were adopted as part of the Senate’s power-sharing agreement in 2007 will remain in the Senate rules, such as:

• Requiring amendments to bills to be filed in advance and made public.
• Publishing a committee’s recorded votes in the Senate Journal.
• Restricting legislation that has already been defeated from being brought up over and over again, thereby reducing the temptation for political posturing.

“We look forward to delivering on our promises of open and responsive government for the people of Oklahoma,” said President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee. “The rules adopted today are a positive step in that direction.”

In addition to the above reforms, the Senate has made tracking action on the Senate floor more accessible to Capitol visitors with a new flat-panel monitor, located in the Senate lobby, which will indicate the bill being debated on the floor, track the votes and provide live images of activity on the Senate floor.

For more information contact:
Senator Coffee's Office:  (405) 521-5636

Inon: Horizontal Blue Band

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