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February 10, 2014

State House selects Hickman as next speaker

OKLA. CITY — The House of Representatives on Monday selected state Rep. Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview, as Speaker of the House by a vote of 69-29.

Hickman replaces outgoing Speaker T.W. Shannon, who resigned last week in order to run for U.S. Senate. Democrat Scott Inman, D-Del City, received all of the Democrat’s votes in the House.

“Jeff Hickman is a dedicated leader who has earned the respect of his colleagues,” Gov. Mary Fallin said. “I am confident he will be an effective and hardworking speaker of the House. I look forward to working with him in his new role as we continue to pursue commonsense conservative policies that will help create jobs and eliminate government waste.”

Hickman, 39, is term limited in 2016. He and his wife, Jana, have two daughters, Taylor and Ashley and a son, Austin. His family is the fifth generation of landowners for farming in Alfalfa and Woods counties.

He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma in 1996. Hickman is the former press secretary of the Office of the President at the University of Oklahoma. He is also the former vice president for Omni Media Group in Woodward.

“Speaker Hickman is a man of integrity with a heart focused on Oklahoman’s best interest,” Inman said. “I look forward to working side by side with him in a bipartisan manner to address the issues facing our great state.”

Hickman has served as chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee.

jcoburn@edmondsun.com | 341-2121

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  • Candidates disagree with White House’s minimum wage

    Gubernatorial candidate Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, said the state needs to have serious growth in high-paying living wage jobs that will provide for Oklahomans.
    Dorman cautioned that while Oklahoma’s jobless rate improved in June, the state’s rankings for the well-being of children has dropped from 36th to 39th place, for one of the largest declines in the U.S., according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Project.
    The unemployment rate in June dropped to 4.5 percent, down a percentage point from 4.6 percent in May, according to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, Gov. Mary Fallin said this week.
    The state’s unemployment rate was more than 7 percent when Fallin was elected during the brink of the Great Depression. Alex Weintz, communications director for Fallin, pointed out that per capita income in Oklahoma was second in the nation from 2011 to 2013.
    The non partisan Congressional Budget office reported in February that raising the minimum wage could kill a half-million jobs in the United States.
    According to The Washington Times, CBO analysts reported, “Once the other changes in income were taken into account, families whose income would be below six times the poverty threshold under current law would see a small increase in income, on net, and families whose income would be higher under current law would see reductions in income, on net.”
    President Barack Obama in February signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $10.10 an hour.
    Weintz said the governor believes tax cuts have enabled families to keep more of their money.
    No one is talking about the under-employment rate of families working minimum wage jobs, Dorman said.
    “It’s all fine and good when you have fast-food jobs that don’t cover the bills and that counts toward your unemployment rate.”
    Oklahoma’s minimum wage reflects the federal minimum wage set at $7.25 an hour, a standard set in 2009.
    Fallin signed legislation this year to prohibit municipalities from raising their local minimum wage above $7.25 an hour.
    “If the minimum wage goes up to $15 in Oklahoma City, all of the sudden you would drive retail, business, service industry locations outside of the city limits and that would be detrimental to the economy, consumers and to businesses,” Weintz said.
    Fallin has said that she opposes raising the minimum wage in Oklahoma because it would stifle job growth for small business and lay off workers. A lot of people earning the $7.25 minimum wage are part-time workers and many of them are students, Weintz said.
    “We believe raising the minimum wage is not a good way to address poverty,” Weintz said. “A lot of people earning the minimum wage are actually people living with their parents or other people who are employed full time, and in many cases they are middle class families. So it’s not a good tool to reduce poverty.”
    Dorman said he does not necessarily support the proposed $10.10 an hour minimum federal minimum wage that is being discussed by Congress.
    “I think we need to have a living wage in Oklahoma that is reflective of our economy,” Dorman said.
    About 102,300 jobs have been added in Oklahoma since Fallin took office in January 2011, according to her office.
    The cost of living in the national economy tends to be higher in some other states, Dorman said.
    So a minimum wage increase should be tied to economic gains so that families can pay their bills and afford to care for their children, Dorman said.
    Independent candidates for governor include Richard Prawdzienski of Edmond, Joe Sills of Oklahoma City and Kimberly Willis of Oklahoma City.

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