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Property rights dispute leads to Oklahoma Senate bill

Energy companies are pushing legislation that would allow them to continue securing temporary permits to access the right-of-way along public roads.
By Jay F. Marks, Business Writer Modified: March 11, 2014 at 8:00 pm •  Published: March 10, 2014

Randy McMurphy figures he’s the reason for Senate Bill 1812.

The bill would allow companies to secure a permit for temporary use of the right of way along public roads.

Sen. Bryce Marlatt, who sponsored the bill with Rep. Mike Jackson, said it merely codifies existing practices around the state.

“It’s a practice that has been going on forever,” he said.

Marlatt said one county commissioner, Woods County’s McMurphy, balked at that so SB 1812 was introduced. The Woodward Republican said the bill is meant to protect the public from the additional truck traffic that would come if oil and natural gas companies can no longer get permits to put temporary water lines along public roads.

McMurphy said he is looking out for the public as well, standing up for the rights of property owners.

He said county commissioners do not have the authority to grant permits to anyone but public utilities, according to his reading of the law.

“I think we’re overstepping our bounds,” McMurphy said.

McMurphy, whose district stretches from Alva west to the Harper County line, said landowners should be consulted before companies are given access to their property. They still own the right of way, even though the county has been granted an easement for a road.

McMurphy set his own policy about a year ago, requiring anyone seeking a permit to access the right of way to get consent from all affected property owners.

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