House of Representatives

General Questions

House members must be 21 years of age (Senators must be 25 years of age) at the time of their election. During their terms of office, legislators must reside and be eligible to vote in their legislative districts.

According to Article V, Section 26 of the Oklahoma Constitution, regular sessions of the Legislature shall meet "at twelve o'clock noon on the first Monday in February of each year". In addition, the Legislature meets in regular session on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January in odd-numbered years from twelve noon until no later than five p.m. for organizational purposes outlined in the Constitution.

According to Article V, Section 26 of the Oklahoma Constitution, regular sessions of the Legislature shall be "adjourned sine die not later than five o'clock p.m. on the last Friday in May of each year."

Generally, sessions are convened at 1:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday. On Tuesday and Thursdays sessions will often be convened at 9 a.m. in the morning. The Legislature rarely meets on Fridays, with the exception of the last weeks in May. Times will change depending upon the legislative calendar when the House finds it necessary to convene in the morning in order to clear bills that are on general order before a legislative deadline. At the end of each daily session, the time for the next meeting is set. Daily Floor Agenda Calendars are prepared by the Majority Floor Leader, and can be obtained from that office.

The House uses a coordinated meeting schedule for the session and the two weeks prior to the session. Committees may meet at times not on the schedule. The committee chair's secretary is responsible for sending out meeting notices. During the interim, the House Research, Legal, and Fiscal Office sends out meeting notices. During the session, meetings can be called with short notice, unlike the interim when a ten-day notice rule applies. If you are interested in being contacted by a committee, you should contact the committee secretary or committee staff.

Copies of House and Senate measures can be obtained by contacting Bill Distribution, Room 310 at the State Capitol (405-521-5514). All Legislative Measures are available via the internet.

Free copies of House and Senate measures can be obtained by contacting Bill Distribution, Room 310 at the State Capitol (405-521-5514). All Legislative Measures are available via the internet.

This information is contained in the Oklahoma Legislature Information System and is available on the internet. It can also be obtained by contacting your Representative or Senator, the House Clerk's office (521-2711 in the Oklahoma City area or 1-800-522-8502 outside) or the Senate Clerk's office (405-524-0126).

This is easily remedied. To determine who your representative is, start by looking at the State Map or the list of Oklahoma Cities and Towns on the House's web pages. Some communities, such as Tulsa or Oklahoma City are divided, but maps of those two communities may enable you to determine who your representative is. If you are still in doubt, contact your county election board which can tell you what House District you reside in. You can also go to this Find My Legislator page. The links on this page are to an external web site which we have no control over, so if have problems with their web site then you will have to contact them about the problem.

You will find information on the House's web pages that give Members district addresses, Capitol mailing addresses, and office telephone numbers. All Members have Email Addresses, but telephone or letters are more certain methods of communication. If you plan to visit a Member in the district or at the Capitol, it is always a good idea to make an appointment with the Member's secretary at the Capitol.

Meet in the legislator's office or somewhere in the member's home district. If possible, introduce yourself and your organization immediately after the legislator's election. This would probably be done in the home district before the Legislature convenes. Explain your group's legislative interests. Interview your legislator or her/his positions. Try to have a person living in the legislator's district be present or, better yet, have that person conduct the interview. Succeeding contacts may be made in the home district again or at the Legislature.

Make appointments, if possible. Keep them. Be prompt. Some legislators prefer that you drop in on their Capitol office rather than make appointments. If such is the case and you drop in and cannot make contact with your legislator, deliver your message to the secretary or research assistant assigned to her/him.

Go in groups of two or three. You can give each other support.

At the interview:

  1. Identify yourself and your organization.
  2. Explain briefly why you are there.
  3. Be sure to have a hand-out to leave behind-research on the issue and on a one or two page summary of your position and reasons why.

Be brief and to the point as you outline your position. Considerations that led to your group's position add a great deal to your rationale because they let legislators know what people are thinking and how. If you are representing a group, don't give personal opinions which might be misunderstood as that of your organization.

Listen to your legislator's views - not only so that you can politely combat the arguments, but just as important, so that you and your group can develop insight into the rationale of your opposition? Know where the opposition is.

Be friendly, earnest and down to earth. Oklahoma legislators seem to like a low-key approach. If a legislator disagrees with you, don't become aggressive, defensive, or over-intellectual. The legislator is listening to constituents too, and the lobbyist should respect that. You may have to agree to disagree on a certain bill, but keep your friendliness intact so that you can start fresh on another bill on another day!

If you don't know, say so. You can find out answers to questions asked of you and get them to the legislator later. Be sure to follow up.

Leave the way open for further conversations on the issue. Even if you never agree on the issue under the discussion, you may want this person's support on other legislation.

Follow up your visit with a letter. Thank the legislator for support if support was indicated or for the opportunity to present your views. Also, send any additional information which may have been requested about your issue or your organization. If you had been unable to answer a question during the visit, look up the answer and include it in your letter.

Thank you's. Thank you's are important at all states of lobbying. Groups often take their supporters for granted and woo the "undecided" or "opposition." Supporters need strokes, too. Don't wait until an issue is settled before you say thank you.

Learn regular committee schedules. Committee schedules are printed at the beginning of the session. The standing committees usually meet on a regular basis at their scheduled times. The subcommittees are scheduled by the subcommittee chairs, and a schedule of these meetings may be obtained from the committee secretary.

The bill number or topic you plan to cover should be registered with the committee secretary. You will usually be notified when the item in which you are interested is scheduled.

Check the committee schedule at the information desk outside the House chamber when you arrive at the Capitol.

Secure a copy of the bill. If you don't have one already, get a copy of the bill or bills to be heard.

Be sure you have the right version of the bill. Amended copies of the bill and amendments to be offered may be available at the committee meeting. Ask the author, committee secretary, or staff member for amendments.

Arrive early enough at the meeting so that you can:

  1. Identify committee members as they take their places;
  2. Identify other persons who will testify;
  3. Pick up agenda, copies of bills, and amendments from the committee secretary.

To know who's who on committees, pick up a picture copy of members of the Legislature available at the information desks. If you go to enough hearings held by the same committee, you will get to recognize not only the legislators but lobbyists, state agency officials, and interested persons.

Pay strict attention. Take notes if you can on who said what, and try to get the gist of arguments (pro and con), questions that committee members ask and the tenor of committee reaction. Notice of a legislator is following party line (or leadership) or acts independently.

Pick up copies of any material available, such as testimony, reports, etc.

Testifying.

  1. There may be sign-up sheets for persons who want to speak on a bill at the committee meeting. If you intend to speak, make certain that you put your name on the list.
  2. Wait your turn to be recognized. The chair controls the agenda regarding recognition of persons wanting to speak for or against a bill. Due to time constraints, outside testimony may be limited.
  3. Begin your testimony be addressing the chair and the members of the committee. Give your name, where you are from or whom you represent and why you are speaking. For example, "Mister or Madam Chair and members of the committee, my name is _____ from ____. I am in favor of this bill because ____."
  4. Be courteous in your language.
  5. Be brief. Try not to repeat what others have already said.
  6. Try to be relaxed. Legislators are there to hear what you have to say.
  7. If a member of the committee asks you a question, make certain that you understand the question and respond to it as best you can. If you cannot answer the question, say so and tell the member you will try to get an answer later.

Know procedures. In legislative committees, the most frequent motions on bills are "report progress" and "do pass." A "report progress" motion indicates that the committee has decided against the bill and retains control of it. A "do pass" motion means that the bill moves out of the committee and is passed on to the floor.

Do not be disruptive. Avoid clapping, cheering, or booing and other disruptive forms of behavior.

Opportunities for giving testimony are actually infrequent and at the discretion of the Committee Chair or the bill's sponsor. Normally, there is just not time. Occasionally, there are public hearings on major bills which afford opportunity for normal testimony. In most instances, opportunities for speaking at committee meetings are limited to a few minutes of informal comments; therefore, it is important to talk with committee members individually before the bill comes to the committee. Be prepared to discuss the fiscal (financial) impact of you bill.

Identify yourself (the person presenting the testimony) in the first paragraph. If testifying as an individual, give name and address. If representing a group, give your name and the name of the group and number of people you represent.

Give the reason for you interest in the subject of the hearing or committee meeting.

  1. If testifying as an individual, explain why the bill, administrative rules, or proposed action by a governing body would affect you.
  2. If representing a group, explain the group's interest and how you know that other members of the group share the opinions expressed in the testimony.

Outline the problems as you see them.

Give solutions you think would be acceptable, and alternatives to proposed solutions with which you do not agree.

If you don't know, say so. You can find out answers to questions asked of you and get them on the issue under discussion, you may want this person's support on other legislation.

Leave the way open for further conversations on the issue. Even if you will never agree on the issue under discussion, you may want this person's support on other legislation.

Follow up your visit with a letter. Thank the legislator for support if support was indicated or for the opportunity to present your views. Also, send any additional information which may have been requested about your issue or your organization. If you had been unable to answer a question during the visit, look up the answer and include it in your letter.

Thank you's are important at all states of lobbying. We often take our supporters for granted and woo the "undecided" or "opposition." Supporters need strokes, too. Don't wait until an issue is settled before you say thank you.

Spell the legislator's name correctly, with proper address. All correspondence with legislators should be sent to their address at the Capitol. If the Legislature is not in session, their mail will be forwarded to them at their home address.

Describe the bill by popular name and by number.

Know if your legislator is one of the authors and acknowledge it.

Be brief and clear. In you first sentence, state the issue and how you want your elected official to vote. Give a short, well-prepared statement of you reasons. Longer letters are appreciated if you have some new information on a subject.

Do not express anger; you will want to have future contact with the legislator.

Be polite in your requests for support and give reasons why. Never demand. Never threaten defeat at the next election.

Use your own words. Do not use form letters or postcards.

Write about only one issue in a letter.

Be constructive. Explain an alternative or better solution to the problem.

Write legibly or type.

Send a note of appreciation when your elected official supports your issue.

When you sign your name, make sure your officials can tell how you wish to be addressed if they should reply.

Information for this section has been largely adapted from the Oklahoma League of Women Voter's Guide to Effective Citizen Lobbying (1998) with the League's permission.

All recorded floor votes are contained in the daily House Journals of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. House Journals are available the morning following the previous day of session. Votes in House Standing Committees are frequently, not always, recorded. House rules require a recorded vote upon the request of any Member of the Committee on final action (usually do pass or do pass as amended). These votes are kept by the Committee chair's secretary.

Oklahoma Statues are compiled every ten years, with annual supplements. The last decennial statutes were compiled after the 1991 session. Law libraries and county court houses should have copies of Oklahoma statutes.

Unlike the Congress and like most states, the only official history for Oklahoma legislation outlines the process to which the measure was subject. Legislative intent is not available from the Legislature. For questions on Legislative History you may contact the Jan Eric Cartwright Library at the State Capitol. This library, a branch of the Oklahoma Department of Libraries, can be contacted at (405) 522-3213.

The Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation operates the State Capitol Welcome Center in the first floor rotunda at the Capitol. Free tours of the Capitol building are conducted Monday-Friday, on the hour between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. It is always best to schedule in advance by calling 1-800-652-6552. Many Oklahoma school and other groups might want to coordinate their itinerary with their local legislators. The Welcome Center also has a brochure for self-guided tours.

Parking at the Capitol, particularly when the Legislature is in session, can be a problem. For visitors planning to take advantage of tours, the south parking lot is the best place to find vacant parking.

There are no cafeterias in the State Capitol, but there are snack bars located in the basement and on the fourth floor that serve sandwiches. From the Capitol, there are nearby restaurants.

Contacts

Normal Hours

  • Monday-Friday: 8:30am to 4:30pm
  • Saturday: Closed
  • Sunday: Closed

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