Is Corporation Commission Considered Archaic?
OKLAHOMA CITY (21 March 2017) – A task force to evaluate whether the Oklahoma Corporation Commission is “properly structured to efficiently operate in the 21st Century” would be established by legislation the state House of Representatives endorsed Tuesday evening.
House Bill 1377 would create a “Twenty-first Century Corporation Commission Task Force.” The bill would direct the panel to conduct:
- a performance assessment of agency workload levels, time required to process its workload, and the agency’s reputation among its stakeholders;
- a structural assessment of the composition of the commission the impact of Open Meetings Act requirements, trends related to the commissioners’ six-year terms of office, the “appropriateness” of the current number of commissioners (three), and the “effectiveness” of leadership and authority;
- an assessment of the state mission to determine accuracy “in light of modern-day agency functions,” “appropriateness and necessity,” and whether performance of certain functions would be better suited in other agencies;
- a funding assessment to determine whether the agency is properly funded, the current funding mechanisms that are available to the agency;
- a staffing evaluation to determine whether the agency is “properly staffed” to meet its mission, whether the staffing structure of the agency is efficient, and whether the staff has “the autonomy needed to perform their duties.”
Although an amendment to HB 1377 specifies that the panel would be comprised of 14 members, the author of the legislation, Rep. Weldon Watson, indicated that number may increase. The intent of HB 1377 is to “develop a dialogue between the Corporation Commission and those they regulate, advocacy groups, ratepayers and others,” the Tulsa Republican said.
At a minimum the task force is expected to include state legislators, representatives of the oil/gas industry, someone from a pipeline utility or pipeline company, plus representatives and customers of the electricity utility industry, the telecommunications industry and the transportation industry.
The task force would be instructed by HB 1377 to prepare and deliver its final report by 1 December 2018 to the Governor, the House Speaker and the Senate President Pro Tem.
The Corporation Commission was established at statehood in 1907, by Article IX, Section 15, of the Oklahoma Constitution.
Today the state agency has approximately 57 field personnel in its Oil and Gas Conservation Division who are responsible for monitoring 200,000 oil, natural-gas and wastewater disposal wells, and has approximately 18 fuel specialists (field inspectors) who monitor 44,000 fuel storage tanks (primarily at service stations) throughout the state. The agency has 15 inspectors to oversee 255 natural-gas and hazardous liquid pipeline operators, more than 39,000 miles of natural gas pipelines and more than 3,800 miles of hazardous liquid pipelines. The commission regulates approximately 400 utilities such as electricity, natural-gas and telephone companies, cotton gins, and a few small, privately owned water companies. And the Corporation Commission has a Railroad Department that has jurisdiction over railway crossings of roads, streets and highways in Oklahoma.
HB 1377 passed the House without opposition, 91-0, and will be transmitted to the Senate. The bill’s title was stricken, which will enable the House and the Senate to fine tune the measure before a finished product is ready for consideration in both chambers.
MIKE W. RAY
Media Director, Democratic Caucus
Oklahoma House of Representatives
(405) 962-7819 office
(405) 245-4411 mobile