Energy project sparked House Bill to transfer Historic Preservation Office

The delay of an energy project is apparently behind a  state house vote this week in support of a bill to remove the Oklahoma Historic Preservation Office from the control of the Oklahoma Historical Society and put it under the state Department of Commerce.

Republican Rep. Scott Fetgatter of Okmulgee authored House Bill 1710 which if made law, would make the transfer effective July 1, 2020. The legislation would require all personnel, records, equipment and funds assigned to the State Historic Preservation Office be transferred to the Department of Commerce.

“This bill should help move forward historical tax credit and other projects throughout the state,” Fetgatter said. “We feel historic preservation is more about economic development and commerce, and therefore it only makes sense for this office to operate under the Department of Commerce.”

Fetgatter said this was a request bill by Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell. He said the two have worked on this issue for more than a year. He said this also could help move forward energy and other projects throughout the state that have been in danger of being held up.

He pointed to an $800 million wind turbine project that was recently in danger of being held up because a turbine could be seen from a historic landmark. He said this will benefit economic development projects throughout the state, particularly in rural areas.

The bill passed the House with a vote of 75-16.

HB 1710 is co-authored in the House by House Majority Leader Mike Sanders (R-Kingfisher) and Reps. Kevin McDugle (R-Broken Arrow), Brian Hill (R-Mustang) and Ross Ford (R-Broken Arrow). The bill now moves to the state Senate where Sen. James Leewright (R-Bristow) is the Senate author.

Source: OK House