(Oklahoma City) Incoming State Senate President Pro Tempore Cal Hobson announced Senate committee assignments Monday.
"The committee assignments are based on each member's individual expertise and ability to contribute, not political affiliation or ideology. Oklahoma will face many challenges in the months to come and it's important that we address those issues in a bipartisan manner," said Sen. Hobson (D-Lexington).
To promote bipartisan cooperation, the incoming Senate leader made sure the committee memberships accurately reflected the partisan divide in the Legislature's upper chamber, with each committee having a proportional number of Democrats and Republicans.
There are currently 27 Democrats and 20 Republicans in the 48-member Senate. The former seat of Governor-elect Brad Henry is open and will be filled in a special election.
In another nod to bipartisanship, Sen. Hobson named five GOP members as vice-chairmen of standing committees. He also tapped a member of the minority party to lead a major standing committee. Senator Jerry Smith (R-Tulsa) will chair the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The new committee assignments will be in place when the House and Senate return to the Capitol on January 7th for a one-day organizational meeting to kick off the 2003 session. The first regular session of the 49th Oklahoma Legislature will convene on February 3rd.