Oklahoma bill would divert funds for weigh stations

| Tuesday, April 12, 2005

A bill awaiting a vote before the Oklahoma Senate would use truck fees to refurbish and eventually replace weigh stations in the state. If approved, it would head to Gov. Brad Henry.

Sponsored by Rep. Fred Perry, R-Tulsa, the bill overwhelmingly passed the House in late March. It calls for diverting several million dollars from overweight and oversize permit fees that now go to the state’s general fund to a special weigh station fund.

“The permit fees were originally designed to go to a maintenance of the truck/highway weigh stations, but during the oil bust of 1985, the Legislature was looking for money under every rock and diverted the fee revenue to the general fund,” Perry, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, said in a statement. “It you look at the weigh stations as you drive our highways, you will see that the weigh buildings, scales and the ramps leading to them are dilapidated. By putting the money back where it belongs, we can change that.”

Perry said funds would also be used to enhance the permit system, which, in turn, would raise fee revenue.

“Trucking company personnel are sometimes kept on the phone for as long as two hours waiting to order a permit,” Perry said. Combined with long lines at stations, he said that, “some truckers are avoiding the state, which costs us lost sales tax revenue and permit revenue.”

Perry said there would eventually be enough revenue to build new weigh stations that would be more strategically located.

“The weigh stations are also unsafe with traffic backed up onto the highway. This is because the weigh station on-ramps were set up for 1950s traffic, when the stations were originally built,” he said.

Prior to the bill’s vote on the House floor, Perry passed out photos of old, dilapidated stations and dozens of trucks lined up to be weighed. The bill – HB1967 – passed 92-5.

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