State Senate approves Julia Kirt’s bill to ‘ensure transparent state Capitol and governor’s mansion maintenance projects’

OKLAHOMA CITY – Senator Julia Kirt’s bill – focused on the long-term maintenance of the state Capitol, governor’s mansion and grounds — is on its way to the House of Representatives.

In a legislative press release, the measure was described as “strategic and transparent to the public.”

Senate Bill 141 by Kirt, D-Oklahoma City, was approved by the upper chamber on Thursday, March 30.

The House principal author is Rep. Mark McBride, R-Moore.

“This is the people’s house. I’m honored to pass this legislation to make sure that it remains in excellent condition, open to the public, and accessible to all,” Kirt said.

“There are many tenants housed in the Capitol, including the House, Senate and multiple executive agencies. In the past we have had little coordination to ensure we are investing in building maintenance and upgrades transparently and in the best interest of the public. This bill creates a uniform oversight structure to ensure our State Capitol is taken care of in a way this building and its history deserve.”

Prior to the eight-year, $280 million Capitol restoration project, Kirt said the building had many problems risking safety and accessibility for Oklahomans and the hundreds of state employees working at the Capitol, including fire alarm systems that didn’t communicate properly with each other and a host of practical and cosmetic issues.

“We must ensure these investments yield returns for the people of Oklahoma for years to come,” Kirt said.

“The public deserves to have access to the historic beauty of our Capitol and governor’s mansion and to enjoy them.”

During its journey through the upper chamber, the bill gained strong bi-partisan support.

Sen. Jessica Garvin, R-Duncan, joined as co-sponsor early in the process. Senator Blake Stephens, R-Tahlequah, became a co-sponsor in late March.

First introduced in mid-February, Kirt’s bill had favorable consideration, sailing through the Appropriations Committee 18-1 after a “do pass” motion from Sen. Chuck Hall, R-Perry.

After incorporating a floor substitute, bill cleared the Senate on a 39-2 vote.

The two nay votes came from Republicans, and all seven “excused” (not voting) were GOP Senators.

The final (so far) version of the measure has some fiscal impact, according to a March 20 fiscal impact estimate (prepared by Oklahoma Management and Enterprise Services. That report said, “The Legislative Service Bureau anticipates a cost to the agency of $43,250 due to the need for a part time position. OMES anticipates an annual expenditure of $3,582,005 for the requirements regarding the State Capitol and Governor’s Mansion under normal circumstances. This figure does not include any unforeseen repair/maintenance needs. There is no fiscal impact for this average yearly cost.”

That leaves the Fiscal year 2024 impact at $43,250.

Note: Pat McGuigan, founder and publisher of, prepared this story, adapted from a legislative press release. He added details on sponsors and the fiscal impact report, and the mix of “no” and “excused” Senators. Founded in 2009, is an independent, non-partisan and locally-managed news service based in Oklahoma City.