Oklahoma's new speaker of the state House

Monday, November 15th 2004, 2:30 pm
By: News On 6

The last time Oklahoma had a Republican Speaker of the House was more than 80 years ago, but the election this month ensured that streak is coming to an end.

With term limits opening up dozens of seats, Republicans were able to pick up nine seats in the state House, making them the new majority party and making a young rancher from Creek County the next Speaker.

News on 6 reporter Alex Cameron profiles Kellyville Representative Todd Hiett.

Running cattle is what Todd Hiett does for a living, but he may need his father and family to help out over the next two years, as the young Republican will have the added responsibility of running the state House of Representatives. "I think the Democrat leaders in the Senate, our Democrat governor will have to realize that the Republicans are now at the table." And the 37-year-old Hiett says he comes to the table with something recent legislative leaders have lacked, a long-term vision.

His small town, agricultural background, he says, helps him understand that many Oklahomans are struggling to get by. "The only way that we can fix that problem is to bring more industry into the state, which would create more jobs, better job opportunities, higher wages."

And Hiett says the key to attracting and retaining business in Oklahoma is doing something other states did more than a decade ago, pass worker's compensation reform. “Oklahoma has refused year after year, the legislature has not allowed reform of that system, so now we're twelve years late, but its time, we must reform that system." Hiett's ranching experience means he can count votes with the best of them, it also means he understands the value good ol' fashioned hard work. "Yeah, there are a lot of things I can't guarantee because this is new territory, but the one thing I can guarantee that I, along with my colleagues, will work hard every day."

Hiett has two years to make his mark, the same term limits that allowed the Republicans to take control of the House in 2004 will send Hiett back to his ranch in 2006. Hiett was first elected to the House in 1994 at the age of 27.

He and his legislator colleagues will be sworn in at the Capitol Tuesday.