Capitol Report: Q&A
BY WAYNE GREENE World Senior Writer
Sunday, February 10, 2013
2/10/13 at 3:12 AM
Rep. Kevin Matthews
Occupation: Retired administrative fire chief, Tulsa Fire Department
School: Booker T. Washington High School, Central State University
You're wrapping up your first week as a first-year legislator. Any rookie mistakes?
"I had one of my bills ... that went to the general education committee (for a hearing) and because I wanted to fund it ... that morning it was put into another committee and I was not aware. ... I was all set and prepared and had practiced for the general education committee and had found the chairman and had talked to the members and was all excited, only to find out that it was not the right committee."
Did you ever track down your bill?
"Yes, I did and ... the committee had not met yet. It did give me an extra opportunity to go find the leadership on that committee and start to talk to them."
How does the pace of the Legislature compare to your expectations?
"There are so many things you have to do in a short period of time. In about 10 minutes I have to leave for my first economic development committee meeting, and I have a stack of bills I got yesterday that I'm supposed to read. ... You have to be able to understand issues really, really fast ... but the discussion on some of those issues sometimes takes forever. On organization day, there was a discussion for more than an hour on office supply money."
What's your No. 1 priority?
"My No. 1 priority is protecting the pensions of our firefighters, teachers and police officers. Then in my district, it's economic development, education and health care."
As a retired firefighter, do you cringe at some of the fire dangers you see in the Capitol?
"I didn't work in the area of code (inspections), but almost anywhere I go I make a point to find out all the exits in case of an emergency. ... I think that's a natural thing for a firefighter."