By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Oklahoma's futureis in our hands, said Speaker of the House T.W. Shannon during a visit to Norman on Wednesday.
“We’ve been a state of low expectations,” he said. “We’ve got to change that.”
Shannon addressed thw Norman Chamber of Commerce during its annual Legislative Lunch. This year’s event was hosted in the Molly Shi Boren Ballroom at the OU Memorial Union.
Shannon, R-Lawton, said he came to the capital in 2007 to clean up waste and with the cutbacks over the last few years, there’s not much waste to cut these days.
“We actually run a pretty lean operation in the state of Oklahoma already,” he said.
The Sunday school teacher and father of two has been married to wife, Devon, for 11 years. He became Speaker of the House on Jan. 8.
He said education and education reform are a priorities the state will continue to address.
“No kid should be forced to go to a school that is failing,” Shannon said.
One of the biggest legislative accomplishments this year is the adoption of a bill for workers’ compensation reform that is expected to save businesses between 15 and 20 percent while still addressing the needs of injured workers.
“This year, we came together and we decided to move Oklahoma to the 21st century,” he said.
Oklahoma’s workers’ comp system was changed from a judicial system to an administrative one. The administrative system goes into effect in February, with the judicial system being phased out, as it deals with cases that came in under the old system.
The same judge will preside and three commissioners will be appointed by the House and the Senate.
Shannon said reductions in state income tax have been a big accomplishment and were done in a “thoughtful” manner that allowed the state to keep its commitment to core government services.
There are challenges still ahead.
“We need to address our pension liabilities,” Shannon said.
He commended Norman for being a state leader in many areas, including economic development, and said the city is one of the top sites under consideration for the future GE global research center that will be locating in the metro Oklahoma City area.
On the horizon could be tort reform forced by the Supreme Court. Shannon also said term limits or age limits for judges could be in Oklahoma’s future as the three branches must be balanced out. Senators and representatives already have term limits.
Shannon also said an interim study will look at the issue of school safe rooms. That will be led by Rep. Ann Coody, R-Lawton, and Majority Whip Rep. Todd Thomsen, R-Ada.