Hilbert on tap to be youngest speaker in state history | News

OKLAHOMA CITY — House Republicans on Monday, March 4, 2024, selected Rep. Kyle Hilbert to be the next leader of the state’s lower chamber.

Hilbert, 29, of Bristow, will be the youngest speaker in state history, and only the second Republican 30 years or younger in any state since 1873, according to the Oklahoma House.

Hilbert, a married father of two young children, said his youth will be an advantage when it comes to helping shape policy in a state that U.S. Census data shows now has more residents under 40 than over.

“You look at Washington, D.C., and you see octogenarian politicians in the White House and elsewhere, and that’s an unresponsive government to the needs of the people of Oklahoma,” he said. “And so I think youth and energy is something that will be beneficial because we have a lot of problems, and for me, I’m not going to stop working until we make each of those better.”

He said he and his wife both work and have faced the challenges of balancing their careers and the childcare needs for their 4- and 1-year-old daughters.

Hilbert said two years ago, his wife, who was pregnant with their second child, told him their daycare was closing permanently at the end of the week, leaving them five days to figure out a childcare arrangement for their daughter.

“Those are real challenges that Oklahoma families face,” he said.

Hilbert, who was elected as speaker designate, will replace Charles McCall, R-Atoka, who is the longest serving Republican speaker in state history. McCall is term-limited in November.

He was first elected to the Legislature at the same time McCall began his speakership.

Hilbert, who most recently served as speaker pro tem, said he served in the Legislature during the teacher walkout when tens of thousands of educators walked out of public schools to protest low pay, inadequate funding and overcrowded classrooms. He also served during the COVID-19 pandemic and in years of budget deficits and surpluses.

The speaker is responsible for committee assignments, advancing legislation that reflects his caucus’ priorities, overseeing the budget and serves as a voting member on all House committees.

Until November, Hilbert will focus on electing and reelecting Republicans to the state House. Currently, 81 of the 101 House seats are held by Republicans.

Another vote will be taken after November’s general election. Hilbert’s selection then will be voted on by the entire House in January.

“I’m very confident that Kyle Hilbert will continue to lead the House of Representatives to better and greater things,” McCall said. “The House of Representatives will be in very capable hands, very experienced hands.”

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