Governor Brad Henry signs bills, closing book on 2003 session

Wednesday, June 11th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A bill signed by Gov. Brad Henry places restrictions on auction sales of mobile homes brought to Oklahoma from other states.

It was among a final batch of 21 bills _ mostly minor appropriations measures _ Henry acted on before leaving Monday for a vacation in Mexico.

In all, Henry signed 488 bills, vetoed 12 and had one line-item veto.

The veto tally by the first-time Democratic governor was a significant decline from that of his predecessor, Republican Frank Keating, who vetoed 302 bills, almost 40 a year over eight years.

``Overall, I think it was a fairly productive session, given the revenue challenges we faced,'' Henry said. ``We didn't solve every problem confronting the state, but we certainly made significant progress on a number of pressing matters.''

Among the major pieces of legislation enacted was Henry's proposal for a statewide vote in 2004 on a state-run lottery, a bill prohibiting smoking in the workplace and other public areas, a law designed to cut down on malpractice lawsuits and a bill authorizing colleges and universities to raise tuition to the regional average.

The main order of business for the session was erasing a $678 million budget shortfall. Lawmakers did that mostly through budget cuts, fee increases, tapping pension funds and other idle accounts and refinancing bonds.

The mobile home measure was sponsored by Oklahoma industry representatives upset with the scheduled public sale this weekend of 600 repossessed mobile homes from Texas.

Meanwhile, a legal fight continues over the planned auction of the Texas mobile homes on 90 acres of land along Interstate 35 near Pauls Valley.

Attorneys for Oakwood Acceptance Corp. of North Carolina and Kruse Asset Management of San Antonio have asked an Oklahoma County District Court to issue an order permitting the homes to be sold at a two-day action Friday and Saturday.

A hearing was scheduled Wednesday before District Judge Vicki Robertson.

Earlier Tuesday, the state's Used Motor Vehicle and Parts Commission rejected an appeal from an earlier decision to deny a license to Oakwood, which owns the mobile homes.

Attorneys for Kruse and Oakwood contend they do not need a license under existing law to conduct the sale.

``On behalf of Oakwood, we believe that existing Oklahoma law does not require a license for a person to sell mobile homes that are titled in that person's name to anyone,'' said Bob Nance, Oklahoma City attorney.

Nance also said the legislation signed by Henry takes effect June 16, representing a compromise that would permit the sale at Pauls Valley to take place before the new restrictions apply.

Under the new law, mobile homes can be purchased at large auctions only by licensed mobile home dealers and not the public.

Deanna Fields, executive director of the Manufactured Housing Association of Oklahoma, said a rash of mobile home auctions could threaten an industry that does $129 million in sales each year.

At an earlier hearing before the regulatory commission, Dan Kruse, president of Kruse Asset Management, said selling the homes to the public could save Oklahomans thousands of dollars.

Kruse said that could benefit some Oklahomans who recently lost their homes in tornadoes.