by Gus Blackwell, Rep.-61

Speaker Pro-Tempore

This past week I had the privilege to participate in two bill signing ceremonies at the State Capitol. One was HB 2813 which allowed recovery of costs for transmission lines to electrical companies. The other was HB 2272 which was the bill for the bond money for roads and bridges.

Both of these measures are keys to economic development in this area. I was proud to be a part of the process that got both of these bills to the governor’s desk for his signature. The governor had already signed both these bills into law. However, this signing afforded an opportunity for those involved to be a part of history.

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This session produced great strides forward for wind power. The results of the task force assembled by a bill I passed last session have produced rapid results. Wind power is being touted on both the local and national level in a bipartisan chorus.

This week one of the first groups I worked with on wind power will be installing their wind turbine. Yarbrough schools will be erecting a small unit to provide electricity for their school in cooperation with Tri-County Electric.

HB 2813 is a bill that will allow an electric company until 2013 to recover costs for the building of electric lines primarily for renewable energy. This bill had considerable difficulty in the House. The chair of the committee wanted the title taken off to slow the bill down and maybe kill it.

I agreed only with the assurance that another identical bill would get heard and fast tracked through his committee. There were others that wanted some language changed. I was able to get an agreement from all sides that allowed the bill to go through virtually unchanged. When the final vote came up in the House it passed 90-7.

Of course, the final decision on rates and investments on infrastructure resides with the Corporation Commission. That is why the two spots up for election this year is so important. It is imperative that people be elected that are 100% behind wind energy.

The bond bill was also critical to this area and will also insure that the eight year transportation plan begun in 2006 will be completed on schedule. The projects in this plan have been made by the Department of Transportation and are devoid of political input. This way the engineers and commissioners decided which roads needed the most work.

Because of 20 years of neglect it still will take time for our transportation infrastructure to be overhauled and improved. However, at the end of that time, there will be significant improvement in the roads in the panhandle area and across the state.

This bill also faced serious challenges as it made its way through the negotiation process. One part that I continued to bring up to the Speaker was the need for money to go to the counties for a revolving fund. After several negations and changes, this was also made a part of the bond package. This will also provide much needed relief to the county roads in our areas.

I am at the Capitol during part of the week for meetings and interim studies. You can reach me there at 405-557-7384 or contact me at my home in Goodwell.


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