Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Anthony Files Dissenting Opinion in Cotton Gin Case

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Anthony Files Dissenting Opinion in Cotton Gin Case

Article excerpt

Now is not the time for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to "flex its regulatory muscle" by denying Williams Cotton Gin a license, after years of abandoning its authority, said chairman Bob Anthony in a dissenting opinion filed Thursday.

Murray Williams has built a $1 million cotton gin near Altus, but the commission has denied his request for a license. In April, commissioners Jim Townsend and Bob Hopkins upheld an administrative law judge's ruling that another gin was not needed in the Jackson, Tillman and Harmon tri-county area.

Anthony had been asked to excuse himself from the case by protestors, including the Oklahoma Cotton Ginners Association, because of comments he made to Oklahoma City Rotarians last August suggesting that cotton gins be deregulated.

Refusing to step down from the case, Anthony said there was ample caselaw showing a trial judge could have a personal opinion, or general opinion, of an industry without having a prejudiced view of a particular case, or specific company.

The commission has been authorized to regulate cotton gins since 1915, when there were some 1,000 gins statewide. Now, there are about 62 and Oklahoma is the only remaining state with regulation on the law books.

However, in a decade ginning rates in Oklahoma have not changed from the current $2 per 100-weight.

Anthony noted also that the commission does not have cotton gin inspectors as the state statute requires, and few cotton gins file annual reports as required by law.

"With only an occasional exception," said Anthony, "there has been little effort by the commission to enforce its rules and regulations.

"While past commission failure is certainly no basis for continuing to refrain from exercising appropriate regulatory authority, why does the commission suddenly choose to flex its regulatory muscle to prevent an individual from operating a facility which would simply provide an important service and competitive option to the public? …

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