Oklahoma Senate approves bill coordinating transportation agencies
April 16, 2020
One bill halfway through the Oklahoma statehouse is intended to improve coordination between the state’s two road agencies.
The Senate voted unanimously to advance a bill that is described to coordinate resources of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. It now moves to the House.
At the request of Gov. Kevin Stitt, the introduced version of the bill called for consolidating the agencies. The governor said the change would make sense because the agencies have a lot of the same duties.
Sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat, SB1775 was amended as the bill made its way through the Senate.
The change was made due to concern that a merger could jeopardize highway funding. Specifically, the change could risk federal highway funding and put highway bondholders at risk.
Treat said the revised bill would direct the agencies to work together “as much as possible,” while allowing the Turnpike Authority to remain a separate agency.
The bill states that the Turnpike Authority would remain separate “for so long as any bonds, notes or other obligations of the Authority remain outstanding and are not fully discharged.”
Treat added that the bill would help the state maximize transportation resources by ensuring the mission of ODOT and OTA remain aligned.
“That will ensure we take a unified approach to maintain our highway infrastructure into the future,” he said in prepared remarks.
SB1775 awaits assignment to a House committee. The bill’s primary sponsor in the chamber is House Speaker Charles McCall.