Following a freshman state lawmaker on her first day on the job

Tuesday, February 8th 2005, 6:15 am
By: News On 6

Oklahoma lawmakers have plenty of their own work ahead of them, particularly new legislators. Term limits kicked in last year, and kicked out many veteran lawmakers.

The shakeup offered some people who always wanted to run, a fighting chance to win a seat in the legislature. News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan followed a Tulsa lawmaker on her first day.

The start of the new legislature was a lot like starting high school for a freshman lawmaker from Tulsa. She's had orientation, done the reading and now she just needs to learn the names of all of her colleagues. It helps to have a map with all their pictures.

Jeannie McDaniel, a new representative from Tulsa, is on the map, and settling into a new office with her name over the door. She's got plenty of work ahead to get caught up - like this rule book of lawmaking. McDaniel found her seat in the chamber without much trouble. “It's on the last row, where all the new people sit - with experience they move up to the front.”

Getting around the state capitol is a different story. She can find the office by remembering it's between the bathrooms, down a long hallway and around the corner. “Another benefit of being new at the capitol and in the minority party. It's all Democrats back here.” They consider themselves a team - and have a picture to prove it. “I think the biggest surprise is how much reading there is to do, a lot of reading.”

McDaniel says it's hard to keep track of it all, but she hopes she can help everyday people. “Wow, you really are in awe of the process, the parliamentary procedure, the rules and what a lot there is to learn, it's like taking on a new degree or a new field.”

McDaniel remains optimistic, even though she says she's been surprised how many lawmakers seem to have an agenda - bringing an answer to the state capitol in search of a problem. She says she just hopes she can do what her constituents want.

McDaniel has been assigned to three committees. She has just one bill that's she's responsible for so far. Her bill would restrict loud mufflers on boats.