Transition team begins charting Stitt Administration’s direction (Capitol Update)

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.

A course being plotted on an old chart with a pencil and course plotterThere’s not a lot of legislative activity to report from last week. Most members were catching up on family time and fielding bill requests before the December 7 bill drafting deadline. In the next couple of weeks, members will be deciding on their own personal priorities for next session. In addition, members get proposals from constituents and various interest groups. Then they must request that bills be drafted to translate their ideas into legislation on or before the Dec. 7 deadline. There’s the feeling that, given the turmoil of the past several years, Oklahoma is turning a page with the new governor and large number of new legislators. New ideas are needed, some big and some small fixes that can make a difference.

Governor-Elect Stitt has kept the momentum by expanding his transition team and policy advisers. A story in the Oklahoman reports that the advisors he chooses will be especially important since he admittedly is not familiar with many of state government’s programs and services. He didn’t try to fake it during the campaign, but instead offered his unfamiliarity with government as proof of his outsider status. Faced with a steep learning curve, and problems that won’t wait, he’ll be forced to rely on the best and most knowledgeable people he can find and trust.

Most of the new governor’s early appointments and relationships come from friends, family and the business community. But chairing five of the seven advisory committees he’s created will be people coming from a political background. Two are from the industry on which they will be advising. Lt. Gov.-Elect Matt Pinnell, a former Republican State Chair and national Republican operative, will chair the Economic Growth Committee. Former State Rep. Michael Rogers will chair Education as he did in the House. Former Sen. Mike Mazzei, who spent most of his time in the Senate working on tax policy, will chair Government Efficiency. Neal McCaleb, a former Minority Leader in the House and Transportation Department Director, will advise on Native American affairs, and long-time district judge from McAlester and former Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court Steven Taylor will chair the Public Safety Committee.

One of the new governor’s advertised strengths is that he’s not part of past ideological battles and political power plays. The challenge for him will be to use the advice and knowledge of some who were, without being trapped into taking the same old positions. During the campaign, the future governor took some positions that would be considered ideological, but I would guess he just filled the political space that was left open for him. Some people who could be too rigid will likely find their way into the circle of influence, and it will be up to the governor to decide which way to go. His mantra during the campaign was that, more than anything, Oklahoma needs leadership. Which direction he will lead us is a story soon to be written.

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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 “Transition team begins charting Stitt Administration’s direction (Capitol Update)

  1. Indeed it is , but we will all be watching , reading , and listening . and I will hold him to his words, the change starts NOW ! lets do this , and make all of oklahoma prosperous again not just the chosen parts or the chosen few or Big government . Good Luck Sir , your going to need it .

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