‘Full House’ interim studies look at hot-button issues (Capitol Updates)

Steve Lewis served as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1989-1991. He currently practices law in Tulsa and represents clients at the Capitol. You can sign up on his website to receive the Capitol Updates newsletter by email.

Oklahoma House Speaker Jeff Hickman

House Speaker Jeff Hickman approved 94 interim studies for the legislative interim.  All you have to do is look at the breadth of interim study proposals to realize the reach of public issues that are dealt with by the legislature.  The study requests stretch from “Courthouse Security around the State” requested by Rep. Scott Biggs to “Expanding Access to Primary Care for Oklahomans and the Role of the Nurse Practitioner” by Rep. Jon Echols and most every topic in between.

I think the breadth of issues is a surprise to new legislators.  Most of them ran for office because of their interest in one or two issues-or a particular point of view about government-and they are shocked to find themselves voting on all kinds of things they’ve never thought much about.  The positive side of this is that legislative service is a great learning experience, if you’re willing to learn.  Most of legislators rise to the occasion and do good things for the people of the state.

In times past when an interim study was approved, the author of the request, along with House leadership would recruit legislators interested in the topic to serve on a special interim committee to study the issue.  Some time ago the practice was changed, for the most part, to assigning the study to one of the standing committees with jurisdiction over the topic.  This seems to have worked out pretty well.

Interestingly, this year Speaker Hickman reserved four of the studies to be considered by the “full House” instead of assigning them to a standing committee.  The four studies are “Best Practices of Capitol Management” requested by Speaker Hickman, “Draught and Redistribution of Water” by Rep. Doug Cox and Rep. Leslie Osborn, “Best Practices in the Top States in Education and Ways Oklahoma Can Replicate” by Rep. Ann Coody and “Judicial Reform” by Rep. Kevin Calvey.  I would guess this is a result of leadership interest in assuming responsibility for reactions or solutions to recent “hot button” issues and longstanding knotty problems.

The recent “hot button” issues include how to establish a constitutional statutory framework for handling requests to put such things as a Ten Commandments statue, or a Moslem or satanic symbol on the capitol grounds and whether or not our judicial system needs “reforming.”  The longstanding knotty problems include improving our schools and how to fairly-and legally-distribute the state’s ample supply of water from parts of the state that have it to those that need it.  I don’t know if the “full House” studies will be open invitation for all members to participate or special interim study committees.  It will be interesting to follow these “full House” studies to see if the Speaker can find a way to generate comprehensive, civil discourse and support for solutions on difficult topics.  


Steve Lewis served as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1989-1990. He currently practices law in Tulsa and represents clients at the Capitol.

One thought on “‘Full House’ interim studies look at hot-button issues (Capitol Updates)

  1. The problem with most of these “studies” is that they rarely really go no where with any significant action, just a waste of tax payer money period. Once they hear what they don’t want to hear with these so called studies, they are disregarded. Happens over and over. A total waste.

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