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Special Report: Making Laws, Making History Pt 2

LAWTON Okla_ Thursday, we gave you an intimate look into the lives of Lawton's first Oklahoma House Speaker and his family. T.W. Shannon said it's the most challenging job he's ever had.

It's also put him in the spotlight, not only in Oklahoma, but across the country.

7News anchor continues our special report with Speaker Shannon: Making Laws, Making History.

Legislative term limits have certainly changed things at the Oklahoma Capitol.

"We're kind of on a 12-year conveyer belt, and you've got to get in and start moving very quickly," Shannon said.

That means a frequent change in leadership. Gone are the days when lawmakers could hold top posts in the House and Senate for years and years.

"I enjoy it," Shannon said. "I feel called and led to do it, but it's not something I want to do forever."

That's not what you may expect to hear from a politician who's positioned to hold the Speaker's post longer than any other republican.

"I haven't made a commitment," Shannon said. "I'm going to finish out this term as Speaker and kind of reevaluate and see where things are. Certainly, if the people of Lawton see fit to send me back, and the Caucus and the House Chamber decide for me to be Speaker again, we'll certainly keep that option open."

So what are his other options? In March, Shannon was called to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, DC. He was featured as one of the top ten conservatives under age 40. His office said they get similar requests all the time.

"Right now, I don't see myself running for a different office," Shannon said. "I think my goal right now is going to be on, focusing on how we continue to promote lower taxes for the people of Oklahoma. How do we make our schools the best schools so our young people can compete in a 21st century global marketplace, and how do we continue to reform our worker's compensation system so that our workers are put back to work quickly?"

Although it may sound easy, these are issues Republican House members have been working on since the party won control of the chamber in 2004.

"It's all about building a coalition and working with people from different walks of life," Shannon said, "Different sectors of the state, different thought processes, different values, coming together for solutions for the people of Oklahoma."

Some of Shannon's toughest challenges so far as Speaker could be on the horizon. The legislative session is just weeks from winding down. While an agreement has been reached on hot button items like lowering your state income tax in 2015, there's always a chance the plan could fall through like it did last year.

While Shannon and other top Republican leaders like Governor Mary Fallin are celebrating the agreements on tax cuts, workers' compensation reform and infrastructure repairs, Democrats are singing a different tune.

They claim a tax cut is fiscally irresponsible, because the state has cut funding for education in recent years. They're also blasting the plan to turn Oklahoma's workers' compensation system into an administrative program instead of a court.

They say it will cut employee benefits and are calling it a "joke on injured workers."

 

 

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