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State Senate sending big-ticket bills to House

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP)  The Oklahoma Senate wasted no time this legislative session sending some big-ticket items to the 101-member House, including a $160 million bond proposal to improve the Capitol and a bill to completely overhaul the retirement system for new public workers.

A separate plan to tap $40 million from the state's Unclaimed Property Fund to complete a long unfinished Native American museum in Oklahoma City also is moving quickly through the Senate, along with a tax-cut bill that mirrors Gov. Mary Fallin's call for a .25 percent reduction to the top personal rate.

But whether any of these proposals ever reach the governor's desk is yet to be seen and hinges primarily on how they are received in the House, which is being led by newly elected Speaker Jeff Hickman, who had no idea when the session began that he would be in charge of wrangling a consensus from a 72-member-strong GOP caucus.

Hickman, R-Fairview, was elected speaker a week after the session began when former Speaker T.W. Shannon stepped down to focus on his U.S. Senate race, forcing him to hit the ground running, put his leadership team together and prepare for three-way negotiations with the Senate and governor's office.

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