The House approved a bill Wednesday that would allow money to be used from an existing 1-cent tax on a gallon of gasoline to pay for three remaining port of entry truck weighing and inspection stations.
House Democrats complained that the money could be used for other purposes and Rep. Jerry McPeak said the new stations, estimated to cost about $11 million each, were too “dadgummed fancy.”
“I'm thinking I might ought to get a cot and go live in one of those rascals because I'm pretty sure it's going to be nicer than my house I live in,” said McPeak, D-Warner.
McPeak said the state should use portable scales to catch truckers driving with overweight loads.
House Bill 2391 would extend a plan approved by lawmakers about four years ago that diverted money from the gasoline tax to build the new weigh stations. The gasoline tax money goes to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission's underground storage tank fund, used to pay for replacing leaking underground fuel tanks. About $16.5 million is in the fund.
The gasoline tax generates about $6 million a year; the original legislation authorized $51 million to go to the weigh stations.
HB 2391 increases the total amount of gasoline tax money going to the weigh stations to $81 million. The additional $30 million should be enough to pay for the last three weigh stations that don't have a funding source, said Mike Patterson, deputy director and chief financial officer of the state Transportation Department.
Bill goes to Senate
The House of Representatives voted 70-16 to pass HB 2391. It now goes to the Senate.
This isn't the first time money has been diverted from the underground storage tank fund. In 2001, the Legislature decided to take $38 million from the indemnity fund; half was designated for matching money to fund the national weather complex at the University of Oklahoma and the other half was designated for Oklahoma State University's biological sensory project.
Patterson said the 1-cent gasoline tax that goes to the underground storage tank fund expires at the end of this year. Senate Bill 1336, which is working its way through the Legislature, would extend the tax for 10 years through Dec. 31, 2022.