Rep. Jeffrey Hickman, R-Fairview, has been elected the new Speaker of the House, replacing T.W. Shannon. Will this mean a change in the fate of certain key pieces of legislation?
It’s too early to tell, but perhaps there’s a hint in some of the positions taken and bills introduced by Hickman in recent years:
*Last year, Hickman was among a handful of Republicans who opposed the cut in the income tax rate to 5 percent by 2015. According to the Associated Press, he thought the cut was too risky without a provision to trigger more revenue in the event the state faced an economic downturn. The state Supreme Court rejected the tax cut because it was contained in a proposal that had more than one subject. Gov. Mary Fallin has proposed an income tax cut again this year of a quarter of a percentage point.
* In 2012, Hickman co-authored SB 1733 with Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore, that made Oklahoma the 25th “open carry” state. The measure requires gun owners to undergo firearms training, obtain a license/permit, and undergo a background check before they can openly carry. Those requirements are more stringent than those of some other states.
* In 2008, Hickman introduced a bill to ban texting while driving but it died in committee. Advocates of such a ban are pushing hard again this year and feel their chances are better.
* In 2007, Hickman protested a bill requiring children under 18 to wear helmets when riding ATVs, arguing that the state should not take over the role of the parents.