Rep. Jeff Hickman becomes new Oklahoma House speaker

The Oklahoma House voted Monday to select Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview, to be the new House speaker.
by Randy Ellis Modified: February 10, 2014 at 6:54 pm •  Published: February 10, 2014

Oklahoma representatives Monday selected Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview, to be the new House speaker.

The House Republican Caucus tabbed Hickman for the post Monday morning, and the full House voted Monday afternoon, 69-29, to give him the job.

Republicans hold a 72-29 majority in the House. All of the Democrats voted for House Minority Leader Scott Inman, D-Oklahoma City.

Hickman was selected to succeed T.W. Shannon, who stepped down as speaker last week to focus on his race for the U.S. Senate.

Gov. Mary Fallin praised House members for selecting Hickman, describing him as “a dedicated leader who has earned the respect of his colleagues.”

“I am confident he will be an effective and hardworking speaker of the House,” Fallin said. “I look forward to working with him in his new role as we continue to pursue common sense conservative policies that will help create jobs and eliminate government waste.”

State Rep. Lisa Billy, R-Lindsay, nominated Hickman for speaker, praising his compassion, integrity, work ethic and willingness to listen to the ideas of others.

In his acceptance speech, Hickman pledged to “serve with respect” for each House member. He cited Isaiah 58 in the Bible in urging House members to work for the good of others and not to focus on themselves.

“I stand before you incredibly humbled and maybe a bit overwhelmed at the tasks ahead,” said Hickman, who is the fifth generation of his family to own and farm land in Alfalfa and Woods counties.

Hickman challenged House members to work to improve public education, continue to make corrections reforms, stand up to the federal government when it overreaches its authority, work toward pension reforms and continue to fund road and bridge improvements.

Hickman was joined on the House floor by his wife, Jana, and his son, Austin. The new speaker appeared to choke up when he talked of the personal sacrifices that families of lawmakers must make. His daughters, Taylor and Ashley were unable to attend.

Hickman now holds what many consider to be one of the three most powerful positions in state government, with the others being the governor and Senate president pro tem.

Questions Monday focused on what difference Hickman's selection might make on negotiations for major issues facing the state.

While Hickman and his predecessor are both Republican conservatives, some view him as more moderate and flexible than Shannon, who was known to stake out conservative positions on issues quickly.

Shannon, for example, opposed issuing bonds for state Capitol improvements and other projects because he was against increasing state debt. Shannon also announced he favored making permanent an incentive for oil and gas companies to drill horizontal wells by continuing to allow them to be taxed at a 1 percent gross production tax rate for 48 months, rather than having to pay the normal 7 percent tax rate.

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by Randy Ellis
Capitol Bureau Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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