OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Ben Loring (D-Miami) is concerned that legislation filed to rename a portion of Route 66 that passes through northern Ottawa County after President Donald Trump could have a negative impact on tourism.
Sen. Nathan Dahm and Sen. Marty Quinn announced in a joint press release Tuesday they have filed Senate Bill 1089.
The renamed section of “The Mother Road” would begin at the intersection of Highland Avenue north of G.A.R. Cemetery and extend north and east through Commerce to the intersection of “the Industrial Parkway in Ottawa County,” according to the release.
The bill will be available to be heard in the next legislative session beginning February 2020.
“I do not understand why Sen. Nathan Dahm and Sen. Marty Quinn have filed legislation that would jeopardize tourism in this part of the state and dishonor one of Oklahoma’s favorite sons,” Loring said in a press release Wednesday. “This highway, from Chicago to Santa Monica, is already designated the ‘Will Rogers Highway,’ which is great for all Oklahomans. This is not at all a political issue. It is entirely an economic issue. Changing the name could have a significant negative impact on tourism in this area.”
Loring points to statistics in a recent report that the combination of Ottawa and Delaware counties are No. 3 behind Oklahoma and Tulsa counties as far as tourism dollars spent here.
“All of the mayors whose communities would be affected and the County Commissioners join me in opposition to this idea,” Loring said. “This is not a political party divide. Many Americans with strong political beliefs and foreign tourists would avoid this section of Route 66 simply because of this legislation if it goes through.
“That is not fair to these communities. Please pick another road, and I would suggest one in your own districts.”
Phone calls to Dahm and Quinn Wednesday were not returned.
Republican Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell, who serves as Secretary of Tourism and Branding on Gov. Kevin Stitt’s cabinet, weighed in via Twitter: “I’ve spoken with Sen. Dahm since learning about this legislation & he’s very willing to look at other hwys. I agree w/ our Route 66 Assoc that calling the road anything other than Historic Route 66 adds confusion & dilutes the uniquely American experience that the hwy represents.”
Both Dahm and Quinn are Republicans. Dahm is from Broken Arrow and represents Senate District 33. Quinn is from Claremore, representing District 2.
“President Trump has done an outstanding job on behalf of our nation and Oklahoma,” Dahm said in the release. “We feel like this is a perfect opportunity to commemorate the great impact his leadership has had on improving the economy and bringing jobs and commerce back to our great state.”
“Oklahoma is in the heart of America,” Quinn said in the release. “Its conservative values of freedom, liberty and limited government are what our country was built on and has made America a strong nation and President Trump continues to fight for these values.”
Rep. Sean Roberts, R-Hominy, will serve as the primary house author for the bill.
“It is an honor to have authored this legislation that will help memorialize President Trump and his contribution to keeping America free and prosperous,” Roberts said. “Many sections of our state highways are named after presidents such as Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. This continues that noble tradition and honors a man who will no doubt be known in our nation’s history as one of our most famous presidents.”
SB 1089 will require that the Senate and House authors and co-authors cover the necessary funds needed for the costs of the signs.
There will be no cost to the taxpayers for the signs.
For those wanting more information, contact Dahm at 405-521-5551, Quinn at 405-521-5555, or Roberts at 405-557-7322.