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Confused about a bill's progress? Oklahoma legislative expert says think of football

Rick Farmer, deputy state insurance commissioner and Oklahoma legislative expert uses a football field to help explain the status of a bill.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Modified: February 2, 2013 at 11:57 pm •  Published: February 3, 2013
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A legislative expert has developed a method using a language familiar to most Oklahomans to keep up with tracking the status of bills, which can get complicated and has its own jargon.

Football.

It's a lot easier to comprehend that a bill has advanced to its own 35-yard line than to understand the bill has had its second reading and has been referred to a committee for a hearing, said Rick Farmer, a deputy state insurance commissioner.

Instead of saying a bill has had its third reading and has passed out of its chamber of origin, it's easier to say the bill is on the 50-yard line, said Farmer, a former political science professor at the University of Akron in Ohio who worked several years as committee staff director for Oklahoma's House of Representatives before going to the state Insurance Department in 2011.

A bill is on the other side's 20-yard line when it has passed both legislative chambers and is on its way to the governor for approval, which is a touchdown, based on Farmer's legislative football game.

Farmer said he came up with using placement on a football field to describe a bill's status to help his boss, Insurance Commissioner John Doak, who is from the business field and had little experience with the legislative process.

“He's a businessman, not a politician,” Farmer said. “I needed a way to communicate the complexities of the legislative process in terms that a layman can understand.

“That kind of resonated, and it made me realize that this is a really good way to communicate to people that don't know the complexities of the legislative process,” he said.

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