No, I am not organizing my closets, but rather it is organizational day today at the marble palace for my Senator. I have often wondered why the legislature meets on the first Tuesday in January prior to the beginning of a new legislative session…. so I asked him. My Senator explained to me that they convene at this time to officially elect their leadership. Simple enough. Never mind that the first day of the official legislative session begins on Monday, February 7th! Roughly one month later!
On that first day when the opening bell rings, the members will report to their respective chamber for a roll call. Just like in school, except they actually get paid for showing up…to the tune of thousands of $$$$ a day in my great state. I bet you didn’t know that each member who lives more than 50 miles from the capitol also gets paid a per diem for his/her travels and lodging each way. Nice, huh.
Anyway, after roll call on the opening day, the members usually caucus briefly, then head over to the House side where the Governor gives his (in this case, her) state of the state address. Following their remarks, the members might have a committee meeting or a caucus meeting depending on what is happening (i.e. what scandal is breaking) at the time and the first day of session comes to a close.
So, back to this organizational day. Here is what typically happens. The bell rings, roll is taken, the members officially cast their votes for leadership positions (such as Speaker of the House, or President Pro Temp of the Senate), a few introductions are made and they call it a day. Costing the taxpayers roughly how much again?
Now, don’t you think it would make more sense to save those tax payer dollars by convening on the first day of the actual session to do all of that? I mean, they could call roll, caucus, elect their leaders, meet jointly to listen to the Governor and put in a full days worth. Just saying.
The only thing standing in the way of my more efficient way to spend your taxpayer dollars is the Oklahoma Constitution. Evidently, the state constitution mandates that the Legislature convene on the first Tuesday of the year in what will be a new legislative session. I am sure there is a mighty fine explanation for this somewhere. I hope there is because I think I may have provided you with a much more streamlined approach for conducting the state’s business.
Okay, stepping down off my soapbox… So, today my Senator will be casting his vote for President Pro Temp of the Senate and I will be walking the halls of the Longworth Building in Washington D.C. Our Congressman is being sworn in up there and I’ll be watching it live.
Maybe I’ll get lucky and run into my new friend, John.