The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

April 24, 2014

Oklahoma Senate passes bill for Capitol repairs

Kristi Eaton
Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Senate resurrected a plan on Thursday to spend up to $160 million to repair the nearly 100-year-old state Capitol.

The Senate voted 33-9 for a House-passed resolution that would authorize repairs to the Capitol. The bill called for vote of the people on whether to issue $120 million in bonds to pay for repairs, but the Senate amended it to authorize a bond issue of up to $160 million without a public vote.

The bill now goes back to the House, where Sen. Greg Treat said he hopes to pick up some votes from the Democrats.

"We're serious about it. We're serious about the number. We want it to go to the governor's desk," said Treat, R-Oklahoma City, who answered questions about the bill on the Senate floor.

Gov. Mary Fallin has expressed concern about the condition of the Capitol and expressed support in trying to fix it, Treat added.

On Tuesday, the House defeated a Senate bill to authorize up to $160 million in bonds for Capitol repairs. Lawmakers who defeated the bill indicated that they agree the Capitol needs to be repaired, but they don't agree with the plan to pay for them.

Unlike past votes, Thursday's vote included little debate and few questions by senators.

The state Capitol, which is one of Oklahoma's most visited tourist attractions, opened in 1917. Maintenance on the 452,000-square-foot building has been delayed for years, contributing to problems including antiquated piping, plumbing and electrical wiring. Cracking of the terrazzo flood in the building's lower level is also a problem.

Parts of the building have been cordoned off by yellow barricades since 2011 to prevent pedestrians from approaching the building's south side, where chunks of limestone and mortar have fallen from the building's facade.

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Online: House Joint Resolution 1033