The first black person to serve as House speaker has selected the first woman to serve as majority floor leader in the state's 105-year history.
House Speaker-elect T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, named Rep. Pam Peterson on Monday to serve as majority floor leader for the 54th Legislature. The two-year session begins Feb. 4.
Peterson, R-Tulsa, will succeed Rep. Dale DeWitt, R-Braman, as majority floor leader. As floor leader, Peterson will be responsible for assigning bills to committees, scheduling bills for floor hearings and running business on the floor during session.
A spokesman for the House said records kept by the House indicate Peterson is the first woman to serve as majority floor leader there.
“I'm very humbled and honored to have this opportunity,” said Peterson, who was elected to the House in 2002. “I am looking forward to serving with Speaker-elect Shannon in this new leadership role.”
Shannon, who was selected speaker-elect last month by the Republican-controlled majority in the House, also named a Norman lawmaker to head up a powerful budget committee. Rep. Scott Martin, R-Norman, has served as vice chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee for the past four years. He will succeed Rep. Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville, who headed up the panel the past two years.
“Chairing the budget committee is probably one of the toughest jobs in the House, but I'm up to the task,” Martin said. “You don't make a lot of friends when you have to tell people no, but taking care of our tax dollars means we have to say no to a lot of spending items.”
DeWitt and Sears were named to their posts by former House Speaker Kris Steele, a Shawnee Republican who could not seek re-election because of 12-year legislative term limits.
Shannon also announced that Reps. Fred Jordan, R-Jenks, and Dennis Johnson, R-Duncan, would serve as majority leaders to help Peterson.
“I have worked with these members for years as I served in the Legislature, and now it is my honor to serve with them as leaders of this great body,” Shannon said. “Each of them brings different talents, experiences and perspectives to our leadership team, and they will serve our colleagues well in their new positions.”
Shannon said he will be announcing other leadership positions in the coming weeks, including committee chairmen and vice chairmen.