New Kansas House Speaker Designated

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Republicans in the Kansas House choose Rep. Mike O'Neal of Hutchison as their new speaker.

They ousted Speaker Melvin Neufeld of Ingalls.

The full House still has to ratify O'Neal's selection when the 2009 Legislature convenes on Jan. 12.

Republicans will hold a 77-48 majority, and the minority party traditionally defers to the majority party's choices.

The vote among Republican representatives and representatives-elect was 41 for O'Neal and 36 for Neufeld.

Some Republicans were dissatisfied with Neufeld because of high-profile policy defeats on gambling and energy during the past two years.