House Speaker Scott Bedke will leave his gavel with Majority Leader Mike Moyle on Thursday and Friday to attend orientation for more than 20 new speakers at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas.
The training is sponsored by the Massachusetts-based State Legislative Leaders Foundation and runs Thursday through Saturday in Austin, hosted by Texas Speaker Joe Straus. The group also holds annual meetings for speakers.
"Previous speakers have told me that it's very good training, will broaden my perspective and at least one of them said I needed that," said Bedke, R-Oakley, after announcing his absence to the House Wednesday.
His predecessor, Rep. Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, went to the orientation six years ago. "Let's put it this way: The whole time he is at this training he will be outside his comfort zone," Denney said. "One of the things I remember is role playing. I was the union boss, which was totally out of my category. But it's fun and it's a learning experience."
The three days of training is paid for by the foundation, which is funded by a Who's Who of corporate America.
Among the sectors on the foundation's Advisory Council are agriculture, communications, energy, entertainment, finance, insurance, media, retail, technology, telecom and transportation. Manufacturers of automobiles, beer, cigarettes, computers, drugs, liquor, software, textiles and wine, among others, help fund the group.
The group was founded in 1972, with a grant from the Ford Foundation.
Here's the pitch on the 2013 training:
In January 2013, at least 20 Speakers of the House will take the gavel for the first time. Not a record turnover but pretty darn close and to make it really interesting, all these new Speakers take office at one of the most critical junctures in America’s history.
Digging out of a deep, deep recession; implementing a far reaching new healthcare law; contending with ever spiraling costs for just about everything; and, of course, confronting the continuing sharp partisanship that has so often thwarted sound compromise—these are just a quick sampling of what awaits these competent men and women.
The State Legislative Leaders Foundation and the National Speakers Conference are again offering our nation’s top legislative leaders an opportunity to come together to discuss, debate and learn, from a faculty that includes nationally recognized scholars and experienced Speakers of the House.