A State House committee on Thursday passed a bill to increase the fee on the production of minerals other than coal in the state.
The recommendation of House Bill 1844 by Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang came from the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Natural Resources and Regulatory Services. It’s estimated the increase would generate $188,000 to $200,000 a year for the Department of Mines.
The full house will take up the measure that would require operators of non-coal mining operations to pay the Department of Mines a fee of 1.25 cents per ton of minerals produced. The current fee is a penny per ton. The minerals affected by such an increase would include limestone, gypsum, asphalt, clay, copper, granite, gravel, lead, marble, salt, sand, shale, chat, tripoli, caliche, volcanic ash and zinc.
Jim Rodriguez, executive director of the Oklahoma Aggregates Association told the committee the industry supports the measure.
“The appropriated amount going to the Department of Mines has been cut significantly over the past several funding cycles and federal funds the department receives have been reduced too,” said Rodriguez. “The industry wants to ensure that the Department of Mines can operate in a reasonable manner. We want to support their operations, in order to protect workers and the state.”
The State Department of Mines received a 2017 appropriation of $775,772, or nearly 12% less than a year ago. It’s also 22.26% less than what the agency was appropriated ten years ago. However, revenue from agency fees increased 35% from $850,000 in 2007 to $1,145,000 in FY 2017.