Lawsuit Could Delay OK Capitol Building Restoration Project

Wednesday, September 17th 2014, 3:54 pm
By: Dana Hertneky

Repairs on the State Capitol are finally moving forward, but a legal challenge could delay the repairs once again.

On Wednesday afternoon, scaffolding started going up on the south side of the Capitol as workers evaluated limestone issues. Up on the dome, a crew from Chicago repelled down the building as they continued their investigation of the building's exterior.

“It's going great so far. We're making wonderful progress,” said Trait Thompson, project manager for the Capitol restoration.

The biggest obstacle right now isn't what workers are finding on the outside of the building, but instead an objection to how lawmakers inside the building authorized the funding of the bonds.

9/15/2014 Related Story: Engineers Rappel From OK Capitol Building

Attorney Jerry Fent filed a legal challenge, saying the law authorizing the bonds only applies to one building, making it a "special law". That means the bill would have needed to be published in a newspaper for "four consecutive weeks" before being considered. And that did not happen.

On Monday, the state will ask the Oklahoma Supreme Court to make a ruling on the challenge.

“We think the court will come in and rule and we're confident the bill was done in the correct manner and we're confident we can get through this very quickly,” said Thompson.

Still, the state will have to wait for a decision from the court before they can begin selling bonds to pay for the project. The State hopes to start selling bonds by November. If the Supreme Court doesn't rule on this legal challenge by then, this could delay the project until they make a decision.

“It is a bit frustrating,” said Thompson.

If the Supreme Court upholds the challenge, that would put the entire project in jeopardy. The total restoration project, inside and out, will take about four to five years.