Corporation Commissioners accuse legislators of “scare tactics” in wanting to remove the agency’s Transportation Division


Legislators attempting to transfer the trucking enforcement in the state from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to the Department of Public Safety are on notice—the commission is adamently against it.

Commissioner Kim David accused members of a legislative committee of using “scare tactics” during a committee hearing, prompting her to ask her fellow commissioners on Wednesday to publicly oppose the bill. And they did.

“We’ve opposed it in the past,” said Chairman Todd Hiett, who described the effort as the “same song each year…it’s like a broken record.”

Hiett went on to explain the Commission’s Transportation Division, which is responsible for enforcement of trucking laws across the state, is not a “money maker” for the Commission.

The Corporation Commission inherited the Transportation Division several years ago from the Oklahoma Tax Commission after the Tax Commission ran into violations over the enforcement. The State ended up paying an estimated millions of dollars in fines, recounted Hiett during the meeting.

Since then, he said the Corporation Commission has not experienced the same kind of problems.

It would appear legislators want to put the trucking enforcement in the hands of the Department of Public Safety. The measure in question is HB2199, introduced by Rep. Dick Lowe of Amber and Sen. Darrell Weaver of Moore. It received a “do pass” this week in the House Transportation Committee.

Legislators proceeded with their takeaway effort despite public opposition from the Commission last fall during hearings about the matter. The commissioners sent a letter to Matt Herndon, chairman of the State Task Force on Motor Carrier Regulation and Enforcement, telling him, “The OCC is gravely concerned with the proposal,” and further charged such a transfer would “put at risk the multi-billion dollar investment in the state’s road and bridge infrastructure.”

The letter was sent after the State Task Force recommended moving the Transportation enforcement officers to the DPS while leaving some Motor Carrier regulatory duties with the OCC.

At the time, the three corporation commissioners warned such a move would result in higher expenses and would overwhelm district courts with citations that are currently handled in the OCC court system. Further, truckers would pay more because they do not face court costs for OCC-handled citations but would in district courts. The commissioners estimated such a transfer would result in $15 million more in expenses.

“If the goal of the Task Force is to increase the number of safety inspection officers in Oklahoa, there are less expensive and disruptive methods to accomplish this goal that would not require rewriting hundreds of sections of law, further burdening Oklahoma taxpayers, or incurring the risk of disrupting motor carrier regulation in Oklahoma,” wrote the commissioners.

It’s not the first time state legislators wanted to wrestle the division away from the Corporation Commission. A similar attempt was made in 2021 by LeFlore County Sen. Mark Allen and Muskogee Rep. Avery Frix to remove funding for the enforcement officers.

Then OCC Public Utilities Division Director Brandy Wreath warned, “it would be very detrimental to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission” and if passed and signed into law, would leave “our officers unfunded.”

“This would have very serious unintended consequences,” said Wreath as he explained the measure to the commissioners. “We have had numerous meetings about this and I can assure you no effort has been left on the table. It has some pretty serious flaws in it.”

At that time, then-commissioner Dana Murphy and commissioner Bob Anthony voted to fight the attempts. Commissioner Todd Hiett voted against standing up to the legislative effort.