A bill in the Oklahoma Legislature to create a university branch campus in Ardmore is still alive but beginning to draw "visible" opposition, Rep. Terry Hyman said Friday at the Ardmore Chamber of Commerce legislative luncheon.


A bill in the Oklahoma Legislature to create a university branch campus in Ardmore is still alive but beginning to draw "visible" opposition, Rep. Terry Hyman said Friday at the Ardmore Chamber of Commerce legislative luncheon.

Hyman said at least two college presidents in northeastern Oklahoma are asking legislators to oppose HB 2889, which is expected to be considered by a joint conference committee within the next few weeks. Hyman suggested that the opposition might be surfacing because of limited state revenues this year.

Ardmore leaders want to transition the Ardmore Higher Education Center into a branch campus of a state university. The new campus would be located on 30 acres of land in the Ardmore Regional Park.

Rep. Greg Piatt said conferees had not yet been named but a final decision on committee makeup could be made as early as the first week in May. Sen. Johnnie Crutchfield said legislative staff members were assigned to assess the actual cost of any transition to a branch university.

"We know there are costs," he said.

Crutchfield said a "standstill" state budget is headed for Gov. Brand Henry's signature. HB 2276 has no money for raises for state employees or teachers, but does include a $20 million increase for the Department of Corrections. Although state agencies will be funded at last year's level, their budgets will automatically be cut by inflation.

"There are natural cuts that take place," Crutchfield said. "Even if you get paid the same salary, you don't have the same buying power."

Hyman said the House passed SB 1149 this week which would expand the state's sales tax holiday to include school supplies. The House also passed a measure (SB 1891) that authorizes the Oklahoma Development Finance Authority to issue bonds to allow Michelin North America and Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. to expand their manufacturing plants.

House members approved an amendment to Senate Bill 1943 Tuesday that will allow local governments to establish tax increment financing districts, or TIFs, for resort developers at Lake Texoma and Grand Lake.

Piatt predicted a bill to make English the official language of state government would pass and be sent to a voters in November.

"It only affects state government," he said. "We will no longer be doing multilingual drivers tests."

Piatt said a tort reform measure similar to what was vetoed by Henry last year was withdraw this week.