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Active legislation that will impact Logan and Oklahoma counties

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We have almost reached the halfway point of this legislative year. Several important measures are moving through the legislative process and could have an impact on Oklahoma and Logan County residents if they become laws later this year.

State Rep.  Jason Murphey

State Rep. Jason Murphey

Here are three of them:

House Bill 1148 explains how county governments may maintain county line roads. This is particularly important because of its potential impact on Waterloo Road which separates the two counties. As many readers can attest, this very busy road continues to experience more and more traffic and is in desperate need of maintenance.

If passed, this bill would allow one county to bear more of the cost than the bordering county. This means Oklahoma County could take a stronger stance in providing Waterloo Road with much-needed support. It may also allow Oklahoma County to assist with the potential signalization of the Waterloo Road interchange with Interstate 35. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation has placed this area on its eight-year plan and intends to build a new bridge which would allow the four-laning of Waterloo Road. It is likely that the ramps will be signalized at that time.

House Bill 1148 has been approved by the House and a Senate committee, and now awaits action on the Senate floor.

House Bill 2005 also won House approval. It would allow those over the age of 45 who are already participating in the fire service retirement system, to serve in a volunteer fire department. Current pension law prevents these individuals from serving and that has been detrimental to the ability of local volunteer fire departments to recruit new people. This nonsensical prohibition prevents those who actually have time to serve, as opposed to those who have yet to retire and must earn a living.

Much of House District 31 is served by these departments and in my opinion, this bill is long overdue.

Finally, last year, I promised to sponsor a bill to put an end to the practice by which county governments may logroll tax increases into a single proposal. I made this promise after Logan County commissioners logrolled a tax increase into the same ballot question as the extension of two already existing taxes.

Nothing would have stopped the commissioners from offering the three taxes as three separate ballot questions, but by logrolling them all into one, they guaranteed passage of a new tax which now goes into their own discretionary budgets.

When I first heard of this plan I thought, “This can’t be legal.” While there is conflicting case law, however, there isn’t a direct statutory prohibition of this practice. But there should be and that’s the intent of House Bill 1400 which I sponsored earlier this year.

House Bill 1400 has won the unanimous approval of two House committees, has been approved by the full House, and now awaits consideration in the Senate. If approved, it would force Logan County commissioners to separate out the three tax issues once they are up for renewal and would provide local voters with a real voice on these matters.

Thank you for reading this article. Your interest and input are much appreciated. Please do not hesitate to email Jason.Murphey@hd31.org with your thoughts and suggestions.

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