Speaker Hickman appoints top state House leadership
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Published: 08-Dec-2014

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma House Speaker Jeff Hickman has announced several appointments to leadership positions, naming the majority floor leader, floor leaders and majority whip. The new group joins leaders elected by members of the Republican caucus in November.

Hickman named state Rep. Charles Ortega to serve as majority floor leader. Hickman said that Ortega brings a unique combination of organizational experience and temperament to an important job that helps steer the House agenda.

“Every year, there are more than 2,000 bills and resolutions in the Legislature which must be considered,” said Hickman, R-Fairview. “It is absolutely vital that we operate not only efficiently, but also in a deliberative, thoughtful way which reflects the seriousness of what our constituents send us here to accomplish. I am confident that Rep. Ortega is the right person for this job.”

Ortega, who served as assistant majority floor leader during the 2014 legislative session, will be responsible for reviewing legislation and overseeing the process to determine which bills will be heard on the House floor.

“It truly is a privilege to have the opportunity to serve as majority floor leader,” said Ortega, R-Altus. “This is a big job and it won’t be easy, but I didn’t come here to sit on the sidelines. I welcome the challenge, and I have a vision for how the job can be done in an effective way. Our biggest challenge as a large majority is to stay focused and unified so we can accomplish pro-economic growth, conservative goals.”

In addition, Hickman named state Reps. Jason Nelson and Lisa Billy, to serve as floor leaders. Nelson and Billy will be responsible for developing the calendar and directing floor activity, including the scheduling of bills and resolutions for votes on the floor.

“I have had a lot of wonderful experiences during my time in the House, but I really am honored to be asked by Speaker Hickman to serve in this particular role,” said Nelson, R-Oklahoma City. “This is an opportunity to serve the members by ensuring a fair and efficient process for doing our work on the floor on the House of Representatives, and I am looking forward to that.”

“I am very grateful that Speaker Hickman asked me to serve in this role,” said Billy, R-Lindsay. “Debating bills and casting votes gets all the attention, but the process behind the scenes is where the rubber meets the road. I really believe the house has a great opportunity to advance a conservative, Oklahoma-values agenda, and I am glad that I get to be a part of it.”

Finally, Hickman appointed state Rep. Gary Banz to serve as majority whip, responsible for assisting the floor leaders and for ensuring that votes are in place and members are in attendance. The whip also serves as a sounding board for members who may have concerns on upcoming legislation.

“The real benefit of this role is that I get to interact with my colleagues on a daily basis,” said Banz, R-Midwest City. “One of the great aspects of being at the Capitol is the relationships you build with people from all across this state, many of whom you may have very little in common with other than the shared commitment to making our state better. Personally, I am very excited about the upcoming session.”

The 55th Oklahoma Legislature convenes on February 2, 2015 at noon.

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