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Oklahoma Senate meets in rare executive session for lesson on rules

BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD zcampfield@opubco.com Published: March 12, 2013
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The Senate's code of conduct prohibits members from “personal attacks and dealing in personalities” on the floor during session and in committee, and requires members to address one another as “senator” during formal proceedings.

On Monday, one senator called another by his first name.

Holt said be believes the executive session was called more so because of convenience than anything else.

“It didn't feel that historic; it felt more like we were all in the same place,” he said.

But mundane or not, the surprise session was certainly a piece of history.

Though Oklahoma's legislative bodies are not bound by the state's Open Meetings Act, Capitol employees who have worked here since before “Matlock” premiered on television said they could not remember such a thing.

“I don't ever recall stepping out of the chamber when they did that,” said Caroline Dennis, director of legislative operations and a Capitol employee since 1982.

Expert's take

Joey Senat, a media law professor at Oklahoma State University, said the move demonstrates why Oklahoma's legislative bodies should fall under the same rules as other governing boards.

The discussion over rules could have just as easily happened in open meeting, and maybe should have, Senat said.

“I'm sure they didn't do it on purpose to insult the idea of open government, but they sure did prove the point there should be a statute that applies to them,” he said.