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Oklahoma Senate meets in rare executive session for lesson on rules

BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD Published: March 12, 2013

Oklahoma's state senators were asked to reread their body's rules and code of conduct Monday in a secret meeting called near the end of day's session.

Reporters, staff and viewers in the gallery were asked to leave Senate chambers without warning as legislators invoked executive privilege for the first time in decades.

The move came on the first day of Sunshine Week, a national acknowledgment of openness and transparency in state government.

President Pro Tem Brian Bingman made the motion to go into executive session about 3:55 p.m., Minority Leader Sean Burrage immediately seconded and then the doors were closed and guarded by red-vested Senate sergeants until about 4:20 p.m.

Both Bingman, R-Sapulpa, and Burrage, D-Claremore, declined to say afterward what prompted the rare session, but others in the room said it was simply a chance for them to remind lawmakers to follow the rules.

“It wasn't anyone specifically called out,” said Sen. David Holt.

“A lot of rules have been broken this year.”

Name calling?

Insiders, however, say it was Holt who may have pushed the envelope the furthest.

During a March 6 debate on the Senate floor, Holt chided Burrage with an unprompted nickname after Burrage asked him a stream of questions.

“I'm not going to go down your assumption path, ‘Matlock', sorry,” he said, referencing the television legal drama of the mid-1980s to early 1990s.

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