Oklahoma House members take oath of office
A Democratic lawmaker attempts to rally legislators to call a special session to deal with whether or not Oklahoma will form a health insurance exchange.
The terms for newly elected and re-elected members begin Wednesday. Current House terms expire Tuesday.
The swearing-in of House members took just a couple minutes. Then for more than an hour, House members introduced family members and friends.
Shannon, presiding in the speaker's chair for the first time, said there is no need for a special session. A spokesman for Gov. Mary Fallin said earlier that the governor is exploring the state's options on the health insurance exchange system.
“We're going to wait to hear the governor's announcement,” said Shannon, who was selected last week as House speaker-elect by House Republicans and is in line to be elected speaker when the House holds an organizational day Jan. 8. “Certainly she's going to lead the discussion. The ultimate decision is going to be hers about how we proceed, but there will be time during session for the Legislature to weigh in on this important issue and to push back against the federal government's intrusion.”
Rep. John Enns, R-Enid, said a special session would be time-consuming and expensive. Estimates are that a weeklong special session would cost about $115,000.
“My constituents do not want me to move forward on that,” said Enns, chairman of the House Public Health Committee. “We're kind of being put in a hard position because you have your constituents who you're supposed to represent saying don't do it and on the other hand you've got the federal government saying it's federal law — you've got to do it.”
New legislators, meanwhile, said they were excited and humbled to take on state challenges.
Rep.-elect Charles McCall, R-Atoka, resigned late Tuesday as Atoka's mayor.
“So far it's been really surreal,” said McCall, a third-generation banker who would like to work on budget or finance committees or subcommittees.
Rep.-elect Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, said House Democrats, despite having their lowest numbers, can be effective.
“There are Republicans out there that want to work with Democrats and there are Democrats that want to work with Republicans,” Floyd said. “I think we've all seen that partisanship just doesn't move Oklahoma forward.”
Rep.-elect David Perryman, D-Chickasha, also is optimistic.
“Hopefully we can overcome some partisan bickering and come together to address some real issues,” he said. “We've got to determine what we're going to do with regard to the federal mandates on health care and we've got real needs in Oklahoma in regards to our educational systems.”
Rep.-elect Katie Henke, R-Tulsa, who lost her bid for a House seat by three votes in an April special election and won by one vote in a recount that eventually wasn't counted, said she was glad to be a member of the House.
“I'm thrilled to be not campaigning anymore,” Henke said. “I'm ready to get to work.”