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Senate Approps Committee Report

Senate Approps Committee Report

Senate Appropriations Committee

Wednesday, February 17, 2010, 10:00 a.m., Room 412C, State Capitol

Members Present: Sen. Mike Johnson, Chair; Sen. Myers, Vice Chair; Sen. Anderson ; Sen. Bass; Sen. Bingman; Sen. Brogdon; Sen. Corn; Sen. Crain; Sen. Crutchfield ; Sen. Easley; Sen. Ford; Sen. Halligan; Sen. Justice; Sen. Laster; Sen. Leftwich; Sen. Lerblance; Sen. Paddack; Sen. Jim Reynolds; Sen. Stanislawski; Sen. Wilson.

Members Absent: Sen. Mazzei; Sen. Sykes.

Others Present: Sen. Aldridge; Sen. Branan; Sen. Brown; Sen. Burrage; Sen. Coates; Senate President Pro Tempore Coffee; Sen. Jolley; Sen. Marlatt; Sen. Newberry; Sen. Russell; Sen. Schulz; Karl Springer, Superintendent, Oklahoma City Public Schools; Mary Taylor, State Auditor.

By Kelsey A. Kemp, The Journal Record Legislative Report

The Chair convened the meeting at 10:11 a.m.

Johnson welcomed the committee and said titles were to be stricken on all bills. He then introduced Aldridge to present the first bill of the day.

SB 2173 (1) By Branan. Changes how money is distributed to the various counties of the state for deposit into the County Bridge and Road Improvement Fund; EMERGENCY.

The committee unanimously accepted the committee substitute as the working draft , and Branan said the bill would change how money was deposited into the County Road and Bridge and Road Improvement Fund.

Without further discussion, the bill passed 21-0.

SB 1940 By Marlatt. Raises the amount of money a grade-and-drainage project must cost before engineering plans and specification must be prepared by the county engineer. Raises number from $300,000 to $400,000; EMERGENCY.

Marlatt said the bill would raise the minimal monetary amount that engineering projects must cost before plans would have to be prepared.

The bill passed 17-0.

SB 1773 (1) By Brogdon. Requires a concurrent resolution with 2/3 approval of both Legislative Houses prior to the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority issuing certain turnpike revenue bonds or changing toll amounts, beginning November 1, 2010.

Johnson said Senate Bill 1773 was not included in the agenda and introduced Brogdon to explain his bill.

Brogdon said the bill would require the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority to seek approval from the Legislature prior to increasing fees or incurring bond indebtedness.

Brogdon said the OTA increased fees on turnpikes during a difficult time for the state and for the trucking industry. He also said the state should not incur debt except through a vote of the people. "I'm trying to apply the rule of law, " he said of the bill's intent.

Crutchfield pointed out that the turnpikes cover 612 miles of road and that it cost over $359 million in maintenance fees last year. "If the bond that passed started going downhill…we'd have to come up with $359 million," he said. "Where do we get the money from the budget?"

Wilson said if the bill passed, he did not think the Legislature would step up to raise the money. "I think it is worthy of discussion," he added.

In closing, Brodgon urged members to vote for the bill and said that OTA's ability to raise fees without the people's consent was a clear violation of trust.

The bill passed 9-8.

The Chair adjourned the committee at 4:30 p.m.

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