Chasm said to be widening among Oklahoma House Republicans

Speaker-elect fires staff, makes committee leadership assignments.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: December 1, 2010

The author of Oklahoma's anti-immigration law and a chairman of key House revenue subcommittees for the past four years said Tuesday he refused a committee chairmanship because of concerns the speaker-elect is straying from conservative social legislation.

Rep. Randy Terrill, R-Moore, said the fracture between conservative House Republicans and Speaker-elect Kris Steele is widening after he said last week he would ask fellow Republicans to focus on economic issues.

“I was offered a position but declined,” Terrill said. “I simply felt that it would be inappropriate for me to accept a position when I may not fully share Speaker-elect Steele's vision in what needs to take place in terms of our caucus agenda.

“I reached the point in my legislative career where I don't need a title to be relevant. This actually frees up more of my time so that I can focus on those conservative agenda items that are most important to me.”

Those items include stronger anti-immigration measures, advancing and protecting gun-owners' rights and a conservative social agenda, he said.

“There are a number of conservatives in the caucus who have serous concerns about Speaker Steele's commitment to advancing those agenda items,” Terrill said.

Terrill's comments led to expectations that the upcoming session will be more tumultuous than expected for Republicans.

Continuity among the House staff took a jolt when about a dozen staffers — including the House fiscal director who had been there 20 years — were fired. Others include a senior fiscal policy analyst, a research director and as many as six executive assistants for House members.

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