Two Corporation Commissioners now oppose legislator’s reform bill

Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Todd Hiett has apparently changed his mind and now opposes a bill proposed by Rep. Zack Taylor that prompted another regulator to offer public criticism of the measure.

HB 1556, called the Oklahoma Corporation Commission Reform Act faces a Thursday deadline to be voted on in the House of Representatives, but Commissioner Bob Anthony is critical of it, calling it a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

Commission Chairman Todd Hiett initially told OK Energy Today  (click here) he was unsure whether he supported Rep. Taylor’s bill, stating “It’s early in the legislative session and it’s hard to know what it’ll look like in the end. Too early to tell. It’s a long way from law.”

However, Hiett later told fellow Commissioners Anthony and Dana Murphy during a March 4 open meeting of the regulatory body, “No. No. No I don’t support it.”

He later added, “If I were a legislator, I would be totally against it.”

Rep. Taylor, in a House Rules Committee hearing where the measure received unanimous support explained that he recently had an issue with the Corporation Commission regarding his Seminole-based oil and gas company. It was partially a cause of his introduction of the measure to originally eliminate the Commission’s General Administrator position.

Corporation Commissioner Murphy stated in the March 4 open meeting, “I think it just points to there’s a perception–there’s a problem. When he talked to me about it he said he wanted to eliminate the position so that is what the original bill was to eliminate the position.”

“I think it’s best to try and solve what the problems are. So to me, it’s an indicator that there’s some kind of issue or perception of whatever it is and so I think it needs to be address and so I really think that it is what the goal of the legislation is.”

Commissioner Anthony initially told OK Energy Today that the bill was unnecessary and would impose expensive delays for such utilities as OGE, PSO and ONG, as well as oil and gas companies.

Rep. Taylor, a Republican from Seminole who also is a member of the board of directors of the Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance was critical of Anthony.

“If the Commissioner doesn’t realize there is a problem within the commission, therein lies the problem,” said Taylor who is also a candidate for the Senate District 28 seat vacated with the January resignation of Sen. Jason Smalley, R-Stroud.

“There is a disconnect and total lack of continuity at the Corporation Commission right now,” he added. “After digging into the issue, all roads led to the general administrator position,” said the Representative.

All bills filed this session face a Thursday deadline of being voted upon in the House of origin. If HB1556 is not taken up by the House by Thursday, it could be dead for the session.