As Majority Floor Leader of the Senate, I have a wide range of responsibilities. It’s my job to decide what committee to assign legislation to. Once bills win committee approval and are ready for the full Senate to consider, the Floor Leader must then go back through those measures and determine which bills are to be heard on a specific day. But there’s more to this position than just determining which bills are assigned to committees and to the floor agenda.
There are rules about how a bill’s author explains what the measure does, when and how other members can ask questions. There are rules for conducting debates and votes on bills, and even rules for reconsidering those votes. The Floor Leader works with the member who is presiding over the Senate that day to make sure those rules are followed.
When members want to introduce special guests who are in the visitors’ gallery, or joining them on the floor of the chamber, they schedule that through me. It’s about making sure the rules and traditions of the Senate are followed, maintaining decorum, and ensuring the actions of those in the chamber, including members, guests and visitors, all adhere to those rules and traditions to ensure first and foremost, the people’s business is done in an efficient and orderly manner.
But one of my favorite jobs comes every Thursday—I have the pleasure of telling the members of the Senate about the high school students who have paged that week. It’s always an important reminder that we have a lot of really great kids in Oklahoma.
Each week, up to 14 high school students from throughout the state come to serve as pages for various members. Pages assist the senators, their executive assistants and staff with errands throughout the week, giving them a first-hand look at the legislative process, and what it’s like to serve in the Senate. But these students really get to do more than just run errands. They have the opportunity to participate in a mock legislative session, debating and voting on a bill the way they would if they were in the Legislature. They get to meet the Governor and Lt. Governor, and visit other facilities like the Oklahoma History Center and the OETA television studios.
These boys and girls participate in just about every sport you could imagine. They are honor roll students, star athletes, outstanding musicians, multi-lingual, and outstanding writers. This past week we had pages with interest ranging from sky diving to volunteering in a local soup kitchen. They belong to groups like Jr. Rotary and FFA. They’re active in their churches, their communities and of course their schools.
Virtually all of these students are planning on continuing their educations after high school. We have pages who intend to study chemical and bimolecular engineering, and a fellow page planned to get a degree in agriculture business. Other areas of study have ranged from medical physics to pre-law and elementary education. Our pages already have started planning their career goals, one last week hoped to become pediatrician, another planned to become a forensic psychologist. Yet another aspires to be a state senator one day.
We deal with so many difficult issues throughout the week. Through those discussions and debate, we know all too well the challenges and difficulties many youths in our communities face. But through our page program, I can tell you we have more outstanding teens in our state than many people may know. I want to assure you that from what I’ve seen, the future of Oklahoma will be in good hands.
Contact Senator Mike Schulz at the State Capitol, Room 418, Oklahoma City, OK, 73105, or call (405) 521-5612.