Last night I attended the Speaker’s Ball with my Senator. This is an annual tradition that takes place at the beginning of the legislative session and is hosted by the Speaker of the House. When my Senator was first elected I actually looked forward to attending our first Speaker’s Ball, because the word Speaker was followed by the word Ball, I thought that meant a very nice party where one was expected to dress accordingly. I mean, my Senator was expected to wear a tuxedo, and doesn’t “Ball” mean ballgown? At least, a nice formal dress, right?
Not at my first Speaker’s Ball. It was a geography lesson in fashion. Yes, Mrs. Senator, people dress differently depending on what part of the state they are from. No biggie, I can get over that. In fact, it was fun to learn where people shop in Beaver, Le Flore and Roger Mills county. This was important stuff and I am always looking for the opportunity to learn something.
Let’s just say that the Legislative wives have come a long way since that first Speaker’s Ball seven years ago. The fashion on display last night was just down right lovely. There were so many beautiful people and gorgeous dresses. And, the hair! Seriously, I need to know where these women went to have their hair done. The magnitude of style that permeated the room was certainly new to this venue. Even the flower arrangements on the tables were spectacular. One would never know we are supposed to be in a recession. The proceeds from this event will benefit the Oklahoma Arts Institute and there will be proceeds. Oh yes, the numerous sponsors and underwriters combined with a silent and live auction most assuredly raked in a sizable donation.
I told you I liked the Speaker’s wife. She knows how to throw a nice party and it definitely set a good tone for the upcoming weeks ahead.
The Governor and First Lady were in attendance as were the Lt. Governor, Attorney General, a Congressman and woman along with countless other dignitaries including members of the Legislature. The President and First Lady of Oklahoma State University were also present. I snapped a photo of my Senator with the First Lady of OSU because she was wearing a black cowboy hat and because she is a super neat lady and I have known her for most of my life.
We also took a photo with some of our Senator friends.
I knew this Senator before I knew my Senator because we both worked for the same United States Senator a long time ago.
Now, let me be clear that the Speaker’s Ball is not all fun and games. There is a lot of networking going on and hand shaking and politicking ,and did I mention it is best to wash your hands because they have traveled around the world by the time you are seated for dinner?
This photo just sings ‘oh, the farmer and the cowman can be friends’!
That is the head of AT&T on the left, conversing with the top guy at Cox Communications. I’m thinking team of rivals… ebony and ivory….there are people who would pay to be a fly on that wall. One thing’s for certain, they were both with women who made them look good! In fact, here I am with the better half of Cox Communications….
Actually, she runs the Native American Cultural and Educational Authority and worked the room better than any politician. Members, take note!
After that round of photo taking opportunities, I held the camera in my hand like it was a glass of wine and enjoyed the rest of the evening.
And, if I told you I was at home and in bed by ten would you believe me? Well, maybe it was more like eleven.
Love, the Senator’s Wife
Yes, I belong to a club called Ohoyahoma! So did my great aunt. This club was organized in 1915 as a way for legislative wives to become better acquainted with one another. Ohoyahoma is actually a Choctaw word meaning “Band of Red Women”…which doesn’t really describe this group, but it is definitely large enough to be considered a band. In fact, yesterday at the Capitol, every county was represented with a member from Ohoyahoma.
This group of legislative wives really does not meet that often. Locally, a handful get together for a Tuesday morning Bible study, and in April there is a luncheon for Secretary’s Day which honors their legislator’s assistant. Ohoyahoma members also volunteer for a day at the Decorator’s Show House in the Capitol City and they manage to make a nice contribution to the Ronald McDonald House. So, to say this is a purely social group is not accurate, although, for me that is what makes this worthwhile. It is also a club of women who know what it is like to be married to an elected official and that is cheaper than any therapy!
Yesterday, I saw some of my favorite legislative spouses and met new ones. I so enjoyed meeting the Speaker’s wife. She is from Tulsa and just a lovely lady. She is busy planning the Speaker’s Ball which is this weekend. I took a poll on what to wear to that event, long or short? She is wearing long as are most members of Ohoyahoma. My Senator will be so thrilled that I felt inclined to ask the dress code as I have a real phobia for not being appropriately dressed at these political events. He lives in fear of the conversation that will take place in the car if I have on a short dress and see women walking in wearing long ball gowns. It is a problem. So, long it will be this weekend. Check that one off the list and consider it done!
I also spoke with the Lt. Governor. She is living part time in my Senator’s District, and she knows he is watching her back. Actually, we walk by her hacienda a lot and my Senator, who notices everything, keeps good tabs on her busy schedule! She is a great lady. ( She was also listening in on the short vs. long conversation….bet she wears long too!)
After the business meeting, we took a group photo as we have done every year and then typically, most spouses head up to the House Gallery and listen to the Governor’s State of the State address. It is just fun for me to watch my Senator doing what he does best, and that is serve.
Naturally, I brought my camera so I could take tons of photos and I held it in my hand like it was a cup of coffee!
Love, the Senator’s Wife
One of the perks of public service is the people you meet, from all walks of life, all different cultures and faiths, and from all across the state who make life so much more interesting.
This picture was taken at the Capitol right before the swearing in ceremony last November. I am with one of my favorite legislative wife friends and we were waving to our men down below. Her husband is the Senate Minority Leader. Had his party stayed in charge, he would be the Senate Majority Leader. BIG difference. I know he is not real thrilled with the demotion.
She has a PhD, a real job and an interesting perspective on things. Did I mention she is tons of fun? Did I mention that she and her husband have seen Jimmy Buffett in concert more times than is humanly possible? They also have children about the same age as ours and she taught our son to water ski. Yep, we like her alot!
We are having lunch tomorrow after the hoopla at the Capitol calms down and I can’t wait.
19 Hours until the Legislative Session officially convenes. My Senator is fired up and ready. Actually, he is taking a nap on the couch and I don’t blame him one bit!
Let the games begin!
The Senator’s wife
Here is the legislative agenda from the Senate Democrats. I promised I would post it when I could find it, and, really, it was only released yesterday afternoon.
So much for the days of wine and roses and power sharing – these boys and girls are coming to the Capitol with their gloves on…um, that would be boxing gloves.
Senate Democratic Legislative Agenda 2009
“Building a Brighter Future”
1: Energize our Economy
Support new energy technology
*Oklahoma is in a unique position to lead the country in new energy technologies.
* We have built our great state based on our strength in the oil and gas industry and we should make it a priority to build on that strength to bring new high paying jobs to our citizens while helping to reduce our dependency on foreign oil and protect our environment.
*The possibilities are limitless here in Oklahoma to invest our natural resources to create new renewable resources such as wind power, compressed natural gas and bio-fuel technology.
*Senate Democrats will support economic development initiatives and other incentives to help grow this sector of our economy because we know in a lagging economy, investing in our natural resources to become the national leader in new energy technology that will protect our economy, protect the environment and provide jobs for our people.
*We stand ready to bring our ideas to the table.
Protect our water
*One of our greatest natural resources is our water and the aquifers that rest below the Oklahoma soil.
*Protecting this groundwater has always been a priority for Senate Democrats and in fact we passed legislation by Senator Gumm a few years ago that put a moratorium on the sale of our water.
*We will fight to keep these necessary protections in place.
*We also believe a statewide water plan will protect our water for years to come and help our communities solve the problems they have in regards to water shortages.
Build better roads and bridges
*It is no secret our roads and bridges are in bad shape. The great news is over the past few years, we have been able to make important investments in our state’s infrastructure needs.
*By investing in our roads and bridges we stand a greater chance of attracting businesses looking to move here and allow our citizens to feel safe when they travel our highways.
*We know in a tight budget year, new money will be hard to come by for road projects, but we should stand ready to support any federal economic stimulus package that would invest money in Oklahoma’s infrastructure needs.
2. Strengthen our Middle Class
Middle class tax cuts
*We are aware in a tight budget year further tax cuts could cripple our government’s ability to fund critical services upon which all our citizens depend.
*If there are serious discussions about tax cuts we believe they should be limited to tax cuts that benefit the majority of Oklahoma’s population which fall in the middle class.
*Tax cuts like an increase in the standard deduction, an earned income tax credit or eliminating the sales tax on groceries are all tax cuts that help Oklahoma’s middle class the most and should be at the forefront of any discussion about the tax system in our state.
Target economic development investments
*In the past Senate Democrats have been instrumental in making certain the Governor’s efforts to invest in EDGE become a reality.
*We support EDGE funding because we understand it is critical to sending a message to others around the country that Oklahoma is serious about bringing high-tech companies and the jobs they will create to our state.
Remember rural Oklahoma
*In a tight budget year, we understand it will be our job to look at our budget and see where we can find inefficiencies and help our state agencies make the most of the funding they receive.
*But we are concerned that Republicans have a mentality to simply slash critical programs that stand as safeguards to those living in rural Oklahoma and to some of our most vulnerable citizens.
*We will be supporting a resolution by Senator Tom Ivester to protect senior nutrition programs from any budget cuts that might be necessary to balance the budget.
*We understand rural Oklahoma communities depend on rural ambulance service and rural fire departments to keep their communities and their citizens safe.
*Even in tight budget years, we believe we can find more funding for these critical services and thus protect the rural Oklahoma way of life
3. Build a Brighter Future
*OHLAP is making college a reality for more of our citizens than ever before. As a result, more students are graduating from college and we are increasing the number of college educated citizens in our workforce. But there is still work to be done on this front.
*College tuition is merely a fraction of the related expenses Oklahoma families face when sending their children to our universities. Books and fees can and often do double the amount a family spends to make certain their child has the potential to realize their dream of a college education.
*We believe expanding OHLAP to cover the cost of books and fees for Oklahoma college students will ease the pinch of the pocketbooks of Oklahoma families who have children in college.
Reign in out of control tuition increases
*Senate Democrats believe funding higher education at the appropriate levels will be critical to reigning in the skyrocketing tuition costs. We stand ready to fight any cuts Republicans might seek to the budgets of our colleges and the board of Regents.
*In a down economy, we do not believe cutting funding to education is the right direction to take our state and we will fight any politician who thinks education should be cut during the budget process.
Fight back-door school consolidation
*One sure way to kill rural communities would be to force them to close their doors. We will fight any Republican effort, backdoor or not, to force rural school consolidation on patrons who depend on their school to be the lifeblood of their communities.
*SJR 1 by Senator Gumm will send to a vote of the people a measure that would change our constitution to allow patrons of local schools districts to make decisions concerning the consolidation of their schools.
4. Focus on our Health
Making coverage count
*Senate Democrats want to end the practice of insurance companies making record breaking profits on the backs of the most sick and vulnerable among us and have filed a host of bills to send a message to insurance companies that they will be held accountable to their policy holders.
*We will again this year fight for a patient bill of rights so that doctors, and not insurance company bean counters, are in charge of the medical decisions of their patients.
*Senate Bill 14 by Jim Wilson requires insurance companies to pay for procedures that medical professionals deem medically necessary.
*We will also fight to end insurance discrimination against autistic children and those patients who choose to participate in clinical trials.
*Senate Bill 1 creates “Nick’s Law” which ends insurance discrimination against autistic children.
*Senate Bill 263 creates “Steffanie’s Law” which requires insurance companies to pay for medical treatment of Oklahomans who choose to participate in clinical trials.
*We will also seek to give greater authority to Oklahoma’s insurance commissioner to investigate rate hikes by insurance companies and allow the insurance commissioner to collect restitution on behalf of Oklahoma families who have been wronged by their insurance provider.
*Senate Bill 1068 by Senator Charlie Laster will allow the Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner to file suit against insurance companies who negligently raise insurance rates.
Prevention and Personal Responsibility are Key
*Obesity is a major problem in Oklahoma. We know this problem can’t be solved overnight and that it will take the cooperation from businesses, health care professionals, community leaders and our citizens to reverse this obesity trend in Oklahoma.
*Personal responsibility is key to helping wage this war against obesity and that is why we will support a bill that will direct chain restaurants to provide nutritional information to their patrons.
*Senate Bill 1135 by Senator Randy Bass directs chain restaurants to provide nutritional information to consumers.
* We also believe preventive screening against deadly diseases such as colorectal cancer will go a long way to making our state healthy.
*Senate Bill 326 by Senator Debbe Leftwich requires insurance companies to pay for early detection cancer screening.
If I could offer Senator Laster, the Senate Minority Leader, some advice, it would be from Teddy Roosevelt….speak softly and carry a big stick!
Love, The Senator’s Wife
I love snow days! Snow days are full of fun and learning at the Senator’s hacienda. Translation: the Wii is about to overheat from excessive play, so I am bombarding the Senator’s children with some useful trivia.
Let’s take a little Capitol dome quiz shall we?
Can you identify the Capitol building where this Dome belongs?
OK, I’ll give you a hint. This is the Capitol with the above pictured dome. It is all the way up at the top of the tower.
And, this is the elevator that takes people up to the top. Skinny people live here.
Here is another fact about this quasi, neighboring (hint, hint) state. They have a unicameral legislature. Definition: a single chamber legislative body without a House of Representatives or Senate, (even though the elected officials are referred to as Senators). This is the only state in the union to have a unicameral legislature and it is commonly referred to by the locals as the Unicam. They claim to be non partisan, which I totally do not believe, but they can say that about themselves anyway.
Have you figured it out yet or did you just google unicameral?
The legislature is gearing up for session and we are officially hunkering down at home!
Actually, the kids and I love this time of year. Last night, we had breakfast for dinner. This would not have flown with our Senator. He is a meat and potato kind of guy at the dinner table. He likes his routines. The rest of us, we are easy. Maybe this is a result of having to be flexible. That can be debated.
However, when he was new to the legislature the kids were so sad he was frequently not with us for dinner, they took an old card table and converted it to a three person table because his empty chair made them depressed.
Now, when he has more pressing “official” business, the children and I have an “official” party of our own. Call it survival, call it pathetic, call it whatever you want, but I have chosen to stay on the upside of being a legislative widow. We make our own fun, our own dinner and it is usually on our own time!
There are debates among legislative wives on who has it easier when the legislature convenes. Is it the wives whose husbands travel hundreds of miles to work at the Capitol? These guys rent an apartment in the City and return home for long weekend visits then head back to the Capitol to start the process over again?
There is an upside to that formula. Inevitably, while the legislators are gone it would be easier to establish a routine. Moms and children are used to the empty chair at the table and one simply plans accordingly. Now, that does not mean it is fun when daddy misses your piano recital or basketball championship game, but there is always YouTube, right?
On the other hand, is it those local wives, who live within fifty miles give or take from the Capitol, whose husbands are in and out at all times of the day and night? Even though they are home, their chaotic schedule wreaks havoc on any type of daily routine. They are there at the end of the day (or their day) to sleep in their own bed, but is it cool to walk in horribly late to that piano recital as opposed to missing it completely? You decide.
There have been some days when my Senator has returned after the children were asleep and left the house prior to their waking up in the morning. This makes for an interesting discussion over breakfast.
I have talked at length about this with my legislative spousal friends and the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. I am sure we would love to trade places just to see for ourselves what situations the other deals with on a daily basis. Did I just call for a Legislative Wife Swap?
One thing is consistent, however, and that is regardless of geography, every legislator and his family has the constant demands of their constituents, ( a group of voters who elect someone to represent them). And, that is a topic for a completely separate post!
O.K. children, time to say goodbye to dad for a while! Just remember our vocab word for the day: constituents. Using it in a sentence: You are daddy’s constituents, so feel free to tell him how you feel about the pressing issues facing our state. The chances are fairly good that you will get a response back!
George Washington’s was the shortest inaugural address at 135 words. (1793)
Thomas Jefferson was the only president to walk to and from his inaugural. He was also the first to be inaugurated at the Capitol. (1801)
The first inaugural ball was held for James Madison. (1809)
John Quincy Adams was the first president sworn in wearing long trousers. (1825)
Franklin Pierce was the first president to affirm rather than swear the oath of office (1853). Herbert Hoover followed suit in 1929.
William H. Harrison’s was the longest inaugural address at 8,445 words. (1841)
The first inauguration to be photographed was James Buchanan’s. (1857)
Abraham Lincoln was the first to include African-Americans in his parade. (1865)
James Garfield’s mother was the first to attend her son’s inauguration. (1881)
William McKinley’s inauguration was the first ceremony to be recorded by a motion picture camera. (1897)
William Taft’s wife was the first one to accompany her husband in the procession from the Capitol to the White House. (1909)
Women were included for the first time in Woodrow Wilson’s second inaugural parade. (1917)
Warren G. Harding was the first president to ride to and from his inaugural in an automobile. (1921)
Calvin Coolidge’s oath was administered by Chief Justice (and ex-president) William Taft. It was also the first inaugural address broadcast on the radio. (1925)
Harry Truman’s was the first to be televised. (1949)
John Kennedy’s inauguration had Robert Frost as the first poet to participate in the official ceremony. (1961) The only other President to feature poets was Bill Clinton. Maya Angelou read at his 1993 inaugural, and Miller Williams read at his second, in 1997. (1961)
Lyndon Johnson was the first (and so far) only president to be sworn in by a woman, U.S. District Judge Sarah T. Hughes. (1963)
Jimmy Carter’s inaugural parade featured solar heat for the reviewing stand and handicap-accessible viewing. (1977)
Ronald Reagan’s second inaugural had to compete with Super Bowl Sunday. (1985)
The first ceremony broadcast on the Internet was Bill Clinton’s second inauguration. (1997)
All but six presidents took the presidential oath in Washington, D.C.The exceptions were:
George Washington—1789, New York City; 1793, Philadelphia
John Adams—1797, Philadelphia
Chester Alan Arthur—1881, New York City
Theodore Roosevelt—1901, Buffalo
Calvin Coolidge—1923, Plymouth, Vt.
Lyndon Baines Johnson—1963, Dallas
When Washington and Adams were sworn in, the U.S. capital had not yet been transferred from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. (the latter became the seat of government beginning Dec. 1, 1800). Arthur, T. Roosevelt, Coolidge, and L. B. Johnson had all been vice-presidents who assumed the presidency upon the deaths of their predecessors, and none was in Washington, D.C., when the oath of office was administered.
Except for Washington’s first inaugural, when he was sworn in on April 30, 1789, all presidents until 1937 were inaugurated in March in an effort to avoid bad weather. The 20th Amendment to the Constitution (passed in 1933) changed the inaugural date to January 20. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Second Inauguration was the first to have been held on that date.
OATHS AND BIBLES
The oath is taken with a hand upon a Bible, opened to a passage of the president-elect’s choice. Each president has chosen a different passage. Theodore Roosevelt’s 1901 oath was the only one not sworn in on a Bible.
Between 1789 and 1993, 35 inaugurations enjoyed clear weather. During ten inaugurations it rained, and seven had snow. The warmest inauguration was Ronald Reagan’s first (Jan. 20, 1981). It was 55°. The coldest was Reagan’s second (Jan. 21, 1985). It was 7°.
Only four retiring presidents have not attended the inaugurations of their successors. Those who were absent:
John Adams missed Thomas Jefferson’s inaugural.
John Quincy Adams was not present at Andrew Jackson’s.
Andrew Johnson was not at Ulysses Grant’s ceremony.
Richard Nixon was not present at Gerald Ford’s inaugural.
( Sources: The Architect of the Capitol; Facts About the Presidents, Joseph Nathan Kane.)
Don’t you just love minutia?
Back in December I wrote about the Bill filing deadline for the upcoming session and how it was the last time you could sign up to run a piece of legislation. Then, my Senator informed me that it was not the final deadline, but simply the first of many and one where you were just reserving your spot. Sort of like a reservation at a restaurant, when you walk in during rush hour, you want your table to be ready. Only this time you are reserving the Bill number, or the “Title of Law”, so you can fill in the blanks at a later date. OK, not a very good analogy, but you get the idea.
Last Thursday was the deadline for the “fill in the blanks” part of the legislating process. Rather, in official terms, the soft deadline for the language part of the Bill, or an opportunity to turn in a rough draft of your proposed legislation, so to speak. TODAY! is the final deadline for the language that will be put into these Bills. Last Call!
Note to self, this language will also be available for the public to read on Friday, January 16th. I am not sure where you can actually find it, but I will ask my Senator and report back.
At this point, there are roughly 3,000 pieces of legislation that have and will be “filed” and will now be assigned to various House and Senate committees. The committee chairman will evaluate each piece of proposed legislation handed over to them and decide which ones deserve a hearing. That is an awful lot of power in a few hands and an awful lot of politicking that is about to take place.
Here is how the process has worked in previous years. When a Bill was sent to a particular committee, if the author was a “D” (Democrat), the Bill would usually receive a hearing. That is because the D’s were in charge. If the author happened to be an “R” (Republican) legislator, then that particular piece of legislation usually wound up in the Senate graveyard. Why, you ask? Because the R’s were in the minority. Simple enough.
Now that the tables are turned and the R’s are in charge, my Senator is hopeful his team will act with more wisdom than politics, doing what is in the best interest of our great state, not their political party. We’ll see.
So, today we celebrate the last call for the language portion of the some 3,000 pieces of legislation that have been filed for the upcoming legislative session. I can hear the sound of those keyboards and coffee makers right now!
My Senator gets tons of mail. From the moment he was sworn into office, everyone warned him about the amount of mail he would receive, and they were absolutely, 100% right on the money. We get truck loads of mail.
My Senator also responds to his mail in a very orderly fashion. If he gets an email, he responds with an email. A letter that arrives by mail, receives a written response in return. And, if the request comes by phone, the lucky caller will get a call back.
I honestly do not know how my Senator has time to answer all of his mail, but I do know he has a very capable assistant who helps facilitate this process. As you might imagine, this leaves little time to comb through all the magazines and newspapers that arrive on top of the mountain of mail. So, my Senator brings them home to me, because I like have nothing else to do.
I enjoy reading the periodicals.
Arriving in the last batch of postal goodies was a publication by the National Conference of State Legislatures ( NCSL for short). There was an interesting article in there entitled: 15 Tips for Being an Effective Legislator.
Here are their top 15:
1. Honor the Institution
2. Take the High Road
3. Master the Rules
4. Know Where to Get Help
5. Manage your Time
6. Develop a Specialty
7. Vote Your Conscience
8. Don’t Burn Bridges
9. Keep Your Word
10. Be Careful What You Agree to
11. Don’t Hog the Mike
12. Stay in Touch
13. Be a Problem Solver
14. Work with the Media
15. Stop and Smell the Roses
My Senator liked #9, but thinks all newly elected officials need to be aware of #10. My favorite hands down was #1.
Still can’t quit thinking about that Orange Bowl. My five friends who read this know I could have cared less about the outcome of that game being the ardent USC fan that I am. However, we went to such a fun watch party and I brought along my camera.
It was quite a festive gathering hosted by some of the nicest people I know. We feasted on fabulous food brought over by one of the yummy restaurateurs in town. He made sure that each pot of chili, one with beef and one with authentic Louisiana sausage, flown in especially for one of his restaurants, was seasoned just right.
We listened to great music piped in during the commercials.
There were several big (I mean, BIG) flat screens for viewing the game and lots of spirit (and spirits!).
The interesting mix of people was icing on the cake.
In downloading the photos today I was reminded how much I really do love college football.
My Senator thought he was a member of the Orange Bowl committee, (notice the patch from the 2001 Orange Bowl on his blazer).
And, I made an extra effort to be on my best behavior that evening. Really, I did. It is like part of the Trojan doctrine, to be a kind and courteous fan. You think I’m kidding? I even wore red. Well, more like burgundy.
But not everyone did…
The only thing missing was a win for the Sooners. Oh well, there’s always next year. But, then they’ve been saying that for a while.
Love, the Senator’s wife
This past Christmas, the Senator’s children informed us that all they wanted for Christmas was a dog. Period. End of subject. Non-negotiable.
So… the Senator and I toiled around with their request. We hemmed and hawed and hawed and hemmed. Dogs are a huge responsibility and we are busy people. Yet, the Senator’s kids are persistent little politicians, refusing to give in or give up and continued to make their case.
After a trek to the local humane society and the caring assistance of the passionate people who work there, we found Scooter. It was love at first site. Big Time!
Welcome Home Scooter!