By: Kathleen Randall
With only 59 of the 105 members of the House of Representatives eligible for reelection, the upcoming turnover presents a unique challenge to the returning members and the staff, that is, how to best teach this large class of newly-elected members, who are limited to three terms at a stretch, the necessary information concerning the institution of the House of Representatives. The Speaker has appointed a special committee on Orientation to plan a comprehensive curriculum for training members and district office staff. Their work will parallel the study of the Special Committee on Term Limits chaired by Representatives Cazayoux and Tucker.
Co-chaired by Representatives Jean Doerge and Jane Smith, the Curriculum Committee on Member Orientation, 2007-2008, includes Representatives Ernie Alexander, Regina Barrow, Tim Burns, Carla Dartez, Brett Geymann, Avon Honey, Nita Hutter, Kay Katz, Loulan Pitre, Harold Ritchie, Joel Robideaux, and Mert Smiley, with Representatives Cazayoux and Tucker serving ex officio.
At its first meeting on March 20, staff resource persons Mary Quaid, Kathleen Randall, Butch Speer, and Bryan Vincent made presentations about orientation concepts and benefits, notable orientation programs from other state legislatures, the history of House orientation and training from the late 1960's to the present, and the various phases of training recommended for House adoption.
The Curriculum Committee on Member Orientation, 2007-2008, has a dedicated web site: . The committee's deliberations and resource materials are available there.
(To access it from the House Home Page http://house.louisiana.gov/ go to "Representatives" and click on "By Committee" and open the "Cmte on Orientation" link.)
The committee will meet again during the first week of the session. Meanwhile, subcommittees on the various training phases will deliberate with staff on the content, teaching methodologies, and frequency of training, in order to start formulating a comprehensive plan for the full committee to review. Current House members are encouraged to provide input to the committee members and their staff – especially insight on the question, "What do you wish you had known when you first got to the House of Representatives?"