A host of familiar faces will lead the Oklahoma Senate when the Legislature convenes for its 1997 session in February. Senator Stratton Taylor, who will return for his second term as President Pro Tempore of the Oklahoma Senate, formally announced leadership and committee assignments for the 46th session of the Oklahoma Legislature today.
"There will be a few changes, but for the most part, the Senate leadership structure will remain as is," said Senator Taylor. "We've got a team that's been working hard and doing well so there's really no need to change the line-up.
"One of the things I'm proudest of is the fact that there is proportional representation on all our committees. For example, because they make up almost one-third of the Senate, the minority party was given one-third of the committee slots.
"Everyone, regardless of their party affiliation, was given an equal share in the committee process."
There will be no changes in the majority leadership team. Senator Billy Mickle will return as Majority Leader, Senator Herb Rozell will remain Assistant Majority Leader and the two Majority Whip positions will be retained by Senator Keith Leftwich and Gilmer Capps.
On the budget front, Senator Kelly Haney will continue as Senate Appropriations Committee chairman. Senator Cal Hobson will return as vice-chairman of the budget-writing panel.
The most significant change in leadership will come in education, where both the education standing committee and budget subcommittee will have new chairmen. Senator Penny Williams will chair the Senate Education Committee. Senator Darryl Roberts will take over as chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Education.
Senator Brad Henry will be the new chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senator Bruce Price will take over as chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Select Agencies.
The rest of the committee chairmen will retain their previous positions.
The committee assignments have changed slightly to reflect the partisan make-up of the Oklahoma Senate. It is the policy of Senate President Taylor to provide each party proportional representation on each committee.
"I've always advocated a bipartisan approach that gives everyone an opportunity to serve and contribute to the legislative process. It's easier to reach a consensus if everyone gets a chance to have their say," said Senator Taylor.
The Legislature will meet for a one-day organizational meeting in January. The full 1997 session gets underway on the first Monday in February.