Edmond-area legislators expressed remorse at seeing House Speaker T.W. Shannon resign his post Tuesday.
Shannon, R-Lawton, resigned as Speaker of the House of Representatives at noon Tuesday, but continues to serve as a representative for District 62. Shannon made a commitment last week to campaign for the U.S. Senate to replace Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee. Also announcing last week for the Senate campaign is 5th District Congressman James Lankford, R-Edmond.
“Shannon restored the rightful role of the House as the guardian of the peoples’ voice and fiscal conservatism. He will be greatly missed. I am sad to see him go but optimistic about his ability to bring this same type of Oklahoma conservatism to Washington, D.C.,” said Rep. Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie.
“I am also optimistic that our next House speaker will carry on Shannon’s vision and as such am hopeful that our plans for more efficiency and transparency will go ahead as scheduled,” Murphey said.
Other Edmond-area legislators agreed.
“T.W. Shannon has been a distinguished Speaker of the House. I have enjoyed working together on significant issues to improve Oklahoma,” said Rep. Randy McDaniel, R-Oklahoma City. “He is a friend and a talented leader.”
Shannon cites workers’ compensation reform last year where CompSource was turned from a quasi-state agency to a private insurer, thus removing the state from the business, as one of his proudest accomplishments as speaker. Rep. Randy Grau, R-Edmond, was selected by Shannon to help push through this reform legislation.
“I think that Speaker Shannon and his leadership will be remembered as thoughtful in that he really considered what was important to the members of the House — what were the issues they really felt passionate about and wanted to see resolved or legislation passed that would accomplish certain goals,” Grau said.
“He is someone who is not afraid to share success with other people, which is appreciated when you’re working with a team the size of the state Legislature.”
Grau cited Shannon’s aggressive police agenda, stating the speaker accomplished much in just a one-year term in the top House leadership position.
“Something he probably doesn’t get a lot of credit for is continuing to modernize government and repeal outdated legislation,” Grau said. “I think the House has taken a leadership role as a whole to make government more efficient.”
Rep. Lewis Moore, R-Arcadia, chairs the State’s Rights Committee created by Shannon. Moore said he appreciated Shannon’s determination to set right the relationship between the state and federal government with the state being sovereign and the federal governent’s intrusions limited.
“We’re just getting started,” Moore said of his committee’s work. “There’s still so much more work to do.”
Moore said if Shannon is elected to the U.S. Senate, he knows that Oklahoma would have someone who is focused on resetting the state/federal government relationship.
“That’s the sole job of a senator,” Moore said. “Their primary job is to protect state sovereignty. Once you know that, it completely changes how yo ulook at that job and it lets you instantly tell if someone is doing it right. Fortunately, the two (senators) we ahve right now are pretty darn good.”
Moore said he hopes whoever takes the speakership position next feels the same about the state’s sovereignty and in pursuing policy that supports that goal.
“You have to thave the emphasis from the top or you cannot succeed,” he said. “Just like in any business, what the owner or leader checks on or talks about is what’s going to happen.”
Shannon said Tuesday that he is proud of his record as House speaker.
“Since I was elected by my caucus as speaker designate in October of 2011, the House Republicans passed measures to increase government transparency and expanded its majority by several seats. We fundamentally reformed the worker’s compensation system, saving Oklahoma businesses $140 million in premium costs in the first year alone. We added work requirements to welfare recipients. And we refused to burden future generations of Oklahomans with more debt.”
Shannon said he chose to leave the speaker position because Oklahomans deserve a leader who is 100 percent dedicated to solving the state’s challenging issues.
“I am stepping aside so a new speaker can be fully devoted to the business of the state, as I turn my attention to solving the problems that face our country,” he said.
Shannon said he will be forever grateful for the opportunity he had to serve as Speaker of the House.
“It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve in this role, and I am forever thankful and humbled by the trust my colleagues placed in me to be their speaker. I also ask for your prayers as I take on this difficult challenge in my life.”
Representatives interested in being the next Speaker of the House are filing paperwork this week to be considered. Grau said the House will select a new speaker by early next week.
Meanwhile, candidate filing for 2014 statewide elections is set for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 9-11 at the state Capitol. Voters will nominate their party’s candidates June 24 for the statewide primary election. A run-off primary election is set for Aug. 26. The general election is scheduled for Nov. 4.
TO LEARN MORE about the U.S. Senate campaign of state House Speaker T.W. Shannon, go to http://www.twshannon.com.