The much-traveled President Donald J. Trump Highway bill completed its final lap in the Legislature and coasted on down to the governor’s desk Tuesday morning.
Besides appending Trump’s name to a stretch of Cimarron County highway, Senate Bill 624 also beknights the “Senator James Inhofe Interchange” in Midwest City and several other roads, bridges and overpasses named for people who did not meet the previous requirement that a person be dead at least three years to be so honored.
SB 624 has gone through several twists and turns during the session, largely because of the three-year limitation. The Senate finally crossed that out of statute, and the House went along, allowing ardent Trump lawmakers — or at least those with ardent Trump constituents — to name 20 miles of U.S. 287 from Boise City to the Texas line for the 45th president.
It also allowed the Midwest City interchange to be named for Inhofe and several other things to be named for recently deceased individuals, including former Senate President Pro Tem Jim Glover, who died in 2020, and a young girl killed two years ago in an all terrain vehicle accident.
Democrats have generally opposed the move, but Tuesday Rep. John Waldron suggested anything named the Trump highway should go near Porter, which is known for its annual Peach Festival.
“It would be an economic development tool,” he deadpanned. “They could have an imPEACHment festival.”
More seriously, some wonder about the wisdom of giving active politicians the ability to turn bridges and highways into campaign signs by naming them for themselves and constituents ahead of elections.
SB 624 was one of several loose ends the House worked to tie up as the session’s end approaches.
Oklahoma isn’t the only state to push for a Trump highway. Lawmakers in Florida, West Virginia, Utah and Arizona have presented bills to name stretches of highways after the former president.
Also taken up was the long-running dispute over whether trailers are vehicles.
By a vote of 77-20, the House decided they are not.
This matters because, as vehicles, trailers generate about $12 million a year in sales tax revenue. As non-vehicles, they’re still subject to an excise tax but at a lower rate.
Truck dealers complain they’re losing sales, especially of the big long-haul units, because of the tax — which legislative leaders say was never supposed to apply to trailers in the first place.
The issue now goes to the Senate, which may or may not get to it before sine die later this week.
The House also passed and sent to the governor two bills intended to counter any moves by the Biden administration to loosen restrictions on the drugs used in medical, non-surgical abortions.