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T.W. Shannon One-on-One
With a vote of 68 for T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, and 28 for Scott Inman, D-Del City, a 34-year old representative entered the state history books as Oklahoma's first African-American Speaker of the House.
"I don't know if there's any weight on being the first African-American, but I'm certainly honored," he said, "My heritage is part of who I am."
Shannon said he's a 6th generation Oklahoman. His mother is a social worker and his father was a school teacher. The small business owner is a married father of two.
"She's my greatest companion, my greatest supporter, and I think that's what really makes the difference for me," Shannon said.
When asked about the future, Shannon said the biggest challenge is that lawmakers have only 4 months to tackle some very important issues.
Economic development tops Shannon's list and hinges on two points: workers' compensation reform and tax reform.
"We have some of the highest rates, but some of the lowest payouts when it comes to workers compensation," he said.
Shannon said lawmakers have started the discussions on tax reform for individuals earlier this year.
"I'm confident we'll be able to lower taxes for all working Oklahoman's and reduce that burden."
Shannon also wants to eliminate the franchise tax for businesses. He said if lawmakers can completely eliminate that tax rate for businesses, they can send a strong message to the world that Oklahoma is open and ready for business.
Infrastructure is another focus for Shannon. He'd like to repair Oklahoma's roads and bridges, and fix the crumbling capital with a pay-as-you-go plan.
When it comes to schools, Shannon called education dollars investment dollars.
"If we're going to have a prosperous Oklahoma for generations to come we've got to make investments in our young people," he said.
Shannon admits there's a lot to accomplish in four short months and says he like to tell people he's just under, over-whelmed at this point. But he believes state lawmakers have learned from Washington's mistakes.
"If there's one thing I'm certain of is we can't wait for the federal government to lead," he said. "If there's going to be reform in this country it's going to happen in the halls of the state capitols across the 50 states."
Posted: Monday, February 18 2013, 09:43 PM CST
IN OKLAHOMA NEWS
FEMA Chief: Feds won't go 'when the cameras leave'
May 22, 2013 11:59 GMT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency says U.S. officials are "going neighborhood to neighborhood" to make sure Oklahoma gets the help it needs.
FEMA's Craig Fugate promises in an interview that officials won't desert Oklahoma, saying "We don't leave here when the cameras leave. We stay here and get the job done." Fugate tells CNN that the agency has enough money to assist the people of Moore, Okla., who were caught in the path of destruction as the nearly 1.3-mile-wide twister struck Monday afternoon. He says officials will work aggressively to help people find temporary housing and says FEMA is working with other officials to get services restored.
The emergency management director arrived in the state Tuesday, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is due there Wednesday.
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