By Jon Jordan, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY - It has taken 101 years for Republicans to gain control of the State Senate, and it's the first time in our legislature's history. The GOP said they plan to focus on key party issues when the next legislative session begins.
"When I walked in the door 10 years ago, there was 15 of us," Senate President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee said.
They got to this point during the last election when the GOP picked up two key Senate seats taking a 26-22 advantage, breaking the 24-24 tie in Senate for the past two years.
"And as new faces decided to run for State Senate, I think those ideas triumphed and we've picked up seats every cycle," Coffee said.
Under their control, Republican Senate leaders said their plan is to focus on tax cuts, education and again trying to limit just how much victims are able to receive in medical malpractice lawsuits. Republicans said these issues should come as no surprise.
"It's not like we're going to change our message all of a sudden. Those are the ideas that have helped get the majority, we're going to fight for passage of those now," Coffee said.
"They're going to be very aggressive ideas, exciting ideas to move Oklahoma forward," new Senate Majority Leader Todd Lamb said.
But Democrats are warning Republicans to be careful how they plan to govern.
"If they push a hard right agenda, the public didn't support that, and it's something that could really backfire here in Oklahoma," Democratic State Senator Andrew Rice said.
Rice said these planned ideas are nothing new.
"What they're talking about sounds similar to what we've seen on the national level over the past eight years, more deregulation, tax cuts for large companies and upper Oklahomans at a time when the economy is getting rougher in Oklahoma," Rice said.
But Republican leaders said when Oklahomans went to polls earlier this month, they sent a message that they want change.
"The Senate used to be termed a place that good ideas go to die," Coffee said. "We're going to give those ideas a hearing over the next two years."
Despite the advantage Republicans will have in the legislature, they still don't have the numbers to override a Governors' veto, and Democrats said that will be their one key advantage to keeping the Republicans in check.
The Republicans will release their 2009 agenda in December.