Sewage smell motivates Oklahoma Senate

by Randy Ellis Published: February 13, 2014

State Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman says senators received a sensory incentive Wednesday to vote for a proposed $160 million state Capitol repair bond issue.

While senators were discussing other legislation in the Senate chamber, the pungent aroma of raw sewage was drifting through the Capitol ventilation system.

“The smell … was offensive,” said Bingman, R-Sapulpa. “The vent was right next to my desk.”

Repeated sewer line breaks and a crumbling exterior are among many problems plaguing the nearly 100-year-old state Capitol building.

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the proposed bond issue Wednesday.

A vote by the full Senate on the issue could come as early as next week, Bingman said.

Bingman said he has not yet had a chance to talk about the issue with new House Speaker Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview.

State House leaders opposed using bonds for Capitol repairs last session because they were against the state incurring additional debt.

Bingman said he doesn't know whether there will be strong House opposition this year.

The Senate drafted a bill that deals only with Capitol repairs, to keep the issue as simple as possible, even though the state has other needs such as completing Oklahoma City's American Indian Cultural Center and Museum, he said.

by Randy Ellis
Capitol Bureau Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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