Friday, March 3, 2017

Osborn to Shelve Bill on Selling GRDA

State Rep. Leslie Osborn (R-Mustang) said Wednesday that she is pulling her bill to outline how the state could divest of the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) should it become necessary.

State Rep. John Bennett (R-Ssallisaw) stated that he was instrumental in getting House Bill 1852 pulled from consideration by the House Appropriations & Budget Committee, effectively killing the measure for this legislative session. The bill would have outlined how the state could divest of the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA).

“Selling the GRDA to a private entity would have negatively impacted people in my district and in other areas of the state who depend on the low electricity rates provided by this non-profit entity,” said Bennett. “I have been working with House leadership and the author of the bill and am pleased that they were willing to put this bill aside for the good of the people.”

House Bill 1852 was awaiting consideration in the House Appropriations and Budget Committee, which Osborn chairs.

“House Bill 1852 was intended to create a practical path to study how the state could unlock the value of Grand River Dam Authority,” Osborn said. “The issue is emotional for many in the area served by the GRDA, and my bill created a lot of good conversation regarding this issue, but also a lot of confusion and uncertainty. This discussion needs logic and reason, so I am pulling the measure and will request an interim study where lawmakers can study this issue and other state-owned assets in much deeper detail and hear from many more voices than the short legislative session allows.”

Last month Sallisaw City Commissioners voiced their opposition to the sale or consideration of sale, of GRDA. GRDA provides electric power to the city, which then sells power to the city’s residents, businesses and industries.

In a resolution opposing the possible sale of GRDA, city officials noted the sale was “a move that could be devastating for Sallisaw and other GRDA communities who purchase electric from GRDA and resell to their customers. GRDA not only supplies low cost power to its customers, but also provides avenues for communities to grow and prosper.”

But the pulling of HB 1852 does not mean the GRDA sale is off the table for good.

Osborn continued, “The state is experiencing a financial crisis with no end in sight. The only responsible way to approach our current fiscal situation is to examine every possible option for generating revenue for our state. As I have said on many occasions, our goal was not to divest the state of GRDA, but to start a discussion and develop an orderly process to determine if it would be prudent and plausible to do so, if necessary. We will continue to take a hard look at this issue until we have honestly answered this question.”

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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