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Two bills intended to streamline enforcement associated with commercial motor vehicles are making their way through the Oklahoma State Legislature.
One bill, Senate Bill 691, outlines a system of fines for people whose vehicles are in excess of weight limitations. State Sen. Mark Allen (R-Spiro), who authored both bills, explained the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety and the Oklahoma Corporation Commission enforce size and weight restrictions on vehicles in the state. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission regulates the fuel, oil, transportation and utilities industries.
Allen said these entities have different bond schedules, meaning a person getting pulled over does not know exactly much he or she will have to pay for any penalties.
The fines outlined in SB 691 would be calculated based on the amount of weight in excess of the limitations. For example, a fine of $200 would be charged if the vehicle is overweight by 750 to 3,000 pounds. A fine of $650 would be charged if the vehicle is overweight by an amount ranging from 7,001-10,000 pounds.
The second bill, SB 617, shifts certain enforcement duties from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to DPS.
“This is moving the Corporation Commission officers under the authority of the Department of Public Safety,” Allen told Transport Topics. “Nobody’s going to lose their job. They will train them to inspect trucks and it’s going to keeps the trucks safer on the road because right now the Corporation Commission officers can pull you over, but they don’t have any federal motor carrier authority. This is going to streamline that and get everybody on the same page.”
Under SB 617, effective Jan. 1, 2023, all assets associated with the enforcement functions of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission will be transferred to DPS. Allen said he gained familiarity with the trucking industry through his oil field service business.
Oklahoma Corporation Commission spokesman Matt Skinner said the commission opposes the bills as they are written, but is open to examining the idea of consolidating activities.
As for the proposed legislation, he said the commissioners have issued a notice to the Legislature recommending a requirement that all agencies, municipalities, district courts and stakeholders that would be impacted work with the Oklahoma Office of Management and Enterprise Services to develop a study and recommendations prior to any additional consolidations occurring.
“They are on record as supporting consolidation, if it can be shown that consolidation would result in better programs,” Skinner said. “If it can be done more efficiently, if it can be done faster and cheaper, great. But any move toward this needs to include all stakeholders and has to be a carefully measured, step-by-step process.”
Oklahoma Trucking Association President Jim Newport said the group remains neutral on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s role at state ports of entry.
“It is not the OTA’s mission to pick or choose one agency over another in this instance and the OTA will support the will of the Legislature,” Newport told TT. “OTA supports both truck safety and the protection of Oklahoma’s roads and bridges. Oklahoma roads are the workplace for trucking to bring critical goods like medicine, food and fuel supplies to our neighbors.”
Oklahoma Department of Transportation spokesman Cody Boyd expressed a similar willingness to working with DPS and the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. Boyd noted ODOT’s role is to construct and maintain the state’s commercial vehicle weigh stations and said the department does not serve as a law enforcement agency.
“The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is agreeable to these two pieces of legislation and will continue to work with lawmakers and our partner agencies who deal with trucking — the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety and Oklahoma Corporation Commission — on this important issue,” Boyd told TT.
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