OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Lawmakers at the Oklahoma Capitol voted to override a veto by Governor Kevin Stitt regarding a bill that would split the power to appoint Oklahoma Turnpike Authority board members.
Currently, all six members of Oklahoma Turnpike Authority’s Board of Directors are appointed by the governor.
House Bill 2263 would give the Oklahoma governor, the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate two appointments each.
The governor would appoint members from Districts 1 (Oklahoma, Canadian, Cleveland, McClain and Garvin counties) and 2 (Washington, Nowata, Craig, Ottawa, Rogers, Mayes, Delaware, Wagoner, Cherokee, Adair, Okmulgee, Osage, Muskogee, Sequoyah, McIntosh and Haskell counties).
The Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives would appoint the members from Districts 3 (Coal, Logan, Payne, Lincoln, Creek, Okfuskee, Pottawatomie, Seminole, Hughes and Pontotoc counties) and 4 (Kay, Pawnee, Garfield, Noble, Tulsa, Woods, Woodward, Major, Alfalfa and Grant counties).
The President Pro Tempore of the Oklahoma State Senate would appoint the members from Districts 5 (Cimarron, Grady, Texas, Beaver, Harper, Ellis, Roger Mills, Dewey, Custer, Caddo, Washita, Beckham, Harmon, Stephens, Jefferson, Greer, Kiowa, Jackson, Tillman, Comanche, Cotton, Kingfisher and Blaine counties) and 6 (Carter, Love, Murray, Johnston, Marshall, Atoka, Bryan, Pittsburg, Latimer, Le Flore, Pushmataha, Choctaw and McCurtain counties).
Although the measure passed both chambers, Gov. Stitt decided to veto the bill.
“Enrolled House Bill 2263 would shift the lion’s share of appointments to the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, a non appropriated entity, from the executive to legislative departments. Such a shift-from six members appointed by the Governor to two members appointed by the Governor and four members appointed by legislative leadership would codify legislative superiority and control over the operation of an executive branch agency and would enable the Legislature to exercise unconstitutionally coercive influence over the executive department,” Stitt wrote.
On Thursday, the Oklahoma House of Representatives and the Oklahoma Senate voted to override that veto.
“This is an historic moment in Oklahoma history with the passing of HB 2263 that started the process of placing oversight and accountability on the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority. Prohibiting members of the Authority Board from voting on any issue in which the member has a direct financial interest and spreading the appointments out over the senate, house and governor’s office helps create a balanced environment where critical and transparent discussions can occur in the quest to develop the best possible transportation solutions for the citizens of Oklahoma,” stated Amy Cerato, a board member of Oklahomans for Responsible Transportation.
Now, the measure will go into effect on Nov. 1, 2023.