OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma House on Thursday met a legislative deadline by passing bills to fund new Port of Entry truck weigh and inspection stations, reduce debt in the state's underfunded pension systems and allow prosecutors to file first-degree murder charges for overdoses involving synthetic drugs.
The House had to approve the bills by Thursday, because it was the final day for that chamber to consider bills that originated in the Senate.
The Senate met its deadline to take up House measures on Wednesday and did not meet Thursday.
The House passed a measure that will fund new weigh and inspection stations for tractor-trailers that supporters said will replace old and obsolete facilities. The House voted 65-17 for the measure and sent it to Gov. Mary Fallin to be signed into law.
The bill's author, Rep. Guy Liebmann, R-Oklahoma City, said it provides funds for "state-of-the-art" weigh stations to replace existing ones that he said are an embarrassment to the state.
"We need to rebuild them," Liebmann said. "This will catch all the overweight trucks."
The measure redirects some fuel tax revenue now deposited into the Higher Education Facilities Fund to a weigh station improvement fund handled by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. The fund will receive $500,000 a month until it reaches $51 million, which will take more than eight years.
Liebmann said the facilities cost about $8 million each and will help protect Oklahoma's investment in its roads and bridges by preventing them from deteriorating prematurely. Supporters said overweight vehicles dramatically reduce pavement life.
A total of nine stations are planned, including a remote weigh-in-motion station. The first is scheduled to open Friday on Interstate 35 in Kay County near the Kansas border, and a second station is set to open on Interstate 40 in Beckham County near the Texas border this summer, said spokesman Cole Hackett of the Department of Transportation, which will build and maintain the stations.
Hackett said the Kay County station will open without weigh-in-motion technology to be installed later that allows a truck to be weighed as it travels along a highway.
"It will open and be able to be used. The technology won't be fully implemented yet," he said.
Kevin Jones of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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