A bill that would have required towers that measure wind speeds to have better markings to make them more visible to crop duster pilots was vetoed late Monday by Gov. Mary Fallin.
State Sen Charles Wyrick, D-Fairland, said he authored the bill after a crop duster pilot died in Beaver County after his plane crashed into an anemometer.
“This deal is personal to me because my son is an aerial applicator and I know in several states he runs into issues like this on a daily basis,” Wyrick said. “This is a real public safety issue.”
Fallin said in her veto message that concerns Senate Bill 1195 attempted to address could better be handled through “administrative rule making and civil remedies, rather than through criminal penalties.”
“Anemometers serve as critical tools for Oklahoma citizens and businesses to assess wind resources, and assist meteorologists in providing accurate weather forecasts,” Fallin wrote in her veto message. “Anemometer towers are appropriately regulated through Airport Zoning Act and the Aircraft Pilot and Passenger Protection Act.”
Vic Byrd, director of the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission, said he blames himself for the governor’s veto because he doesn’t believe he did a good enough job of explaining the dangers that unpainted anemometers made of galvanized steel pose to crop duster pilots.
“There’s been a number of deaths across the country,” Byrd said, estimating there are 200-300 anemometer towers in the state.
Byrd said he will look into whether administrative rules can be used to require markings on anemometer towers.