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Agricultural News

Roger Ballenger and Jeff Hickman Receive okPORK Outstanding Legislator Awards

Fri, 28 Feb 2014 15:46:53 CST

Roger Ballenger and Jeff Hickman Receive okPORK Outstanding Legislator Awards
In 2010, the Oklahoma Pork Council established the Outstanding Legislator Award to honor members of the Oklahoma legislature for supporting Oklahoma's pork industry. This year's honorees are Sen. Roger Ballenger, D-Okmulgee, and Speaker of the House Jeff Hickman, R-Dacoma.

Sen. Ballenger grew up in Okmulgee and made his living as an electrical contractor in the Tulsa area while owning and operating a small Beefmaster cattle operation west of Okmulgee. He was the Okmulgee County Commissioner for 16 years and served on the Okmulgee City Council for eight years.

"Being a Democrat in Oklahoma isn't an easy task given the current political climate, but I don't know of any member with a more positive attitude than Roger Ballenger," James McSpadden of McSpadden & Associates said. "If you go by to see Sen. Ballenger, odds are that you will have a 10 minute conversation before ever talking business. When he does get down to business his questions and debates always center on people, not politics. He's there for the right reasons."

Sen. Ballenger recognized the damage caused by feral hogs and the risk they posed to Oklahoma's domestic hog herd. In his first session at the Capitol he introduced legislation that limited transportation of the feral hogs, required registration of trapping and hunting facilities and eliminated restrictions on shooting of feral hogs.

"Senator Ballenger is a man of principle who stands behind what he believes is right, regardless of the resistance. There's no better example of this than his endurance to the resistance and criticism that followed the legislation on feral hogs," Roy Lee Lindsey, okPORK executive director, said. "We had never imagined that anyone would object to this legislation but after its passage, he received countless calls critical of the effort. To his credit, he recognized the need for the legislation and stood firm on the issue."

Oklahoma Speaker of the House Jeff Hickman is a fifth generation owner of farmland in Alfalfa and Woods counties. Speaker Hickman was raised in the Cherokee and Dacoma areas and represents District 58 which includes the counties of Alfalfa, Major, Woods and Woodward.

"You'll find Speaker Hickman's name as an author on some of the most important bills okPORK has ever requested," Lindsey said. "Exempting testing of dry monitoring wells, eliminating liability for third party use of effluent and setting a minimum amount of effluent spills that require a reporting to ODAFF were among them. Without the support of a legislator from northwestern Oklahoma, these initiatives would have faced uphill battles."

Hickman was the chair of the A&B Public Safety committee and a member of the Agriculture and Wildlife, Appropriations and Budget, and Energy and Aerospace committees, before being elected by the House to serve as Speaker of the House in February 2014.

"The Oklahoma House would be in a great place if we could somehow find 101 Jeff Hickmans," McSpadden said. "His grasp of the issues and the calm demeanor make him one of the strongest House members we've seen in a long time. He is well-prepared to lead the House and we look forward to working with him in the coming months."



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