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8:01 am
Mon June 4, 2012

Challenges Ahead for New Oklahoma House Speaker

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Outgoing House Speaker Kris Steele had his hands full trying to keep control of a nearly 70-member strong Republican caucus in the Oklahoma House.

First the House balked at an income tax cut agreement, and then a deal on the state budget nearly fell apart in the waning days of the session.

Now the job of shepherding this diverse caucus falls to House Speaker-Designate T.W. Shannon, a 34-year-old Republican from Lawton who is in line to become the first African-American speaker in Oklahoma's history.

Shannon will be dealing with a caucus that has grown more diverse as the Republican Party gains power in Oklahoma. It also has become more fractured as the tea-party aligned right wing calls for action on social issues like guns, abortion and illegal

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