Shawnee resident wins Legislative Advocate of the Year award
The Central Oklahoma Clean Cities coalition has awarded Amy Walton of Shawnee with the 2021 Legislative Advocate of the Year award for her contribution to critical transportation legislation.
The award was presented to Walton, director of government relations and strategic initiatives for the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST), at the coalition’s Annual Awards Luncheon on May 26.
Walton was instrumental in shaping electric vehicle taxation legislation that passed by the state legislature in the most recent session. Known as the DRIVE – Driving on Road Infrastructure with Vehicles of Electricity – Act of 2021, the legislation addresses road use tax for electric vehicles and was signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt.
“The Electric Vehicle industry is a rapidly growing and crucial sector for the future of Oklahoma as the market for alternative transportation increases across our nation,” said State Rep. Brian Hill, R-Mustang. “I can think of no one who has done more for our state to provide opportunities in the EV sector and who is more deserving of this honor than Amy Walton. Her insight and connections to industry leaders has been critical to the legislation we have developed in the House of Representatives to move Oklahoma forward.”
Walton provided research and input for the interim study titled Transportation Electrification: Planning Considerations for Oklahoma, chaired by Representative Hill, who also authored HB 1712, creating the road use charge program that will study tax mechanisms for Oklahoma’s long term revenue needs for roads and bridges. As vehicles become more efficient and alternative sources of fuel are utilized, the current gas tax becomes inefficient for the future of transportation.
This understanding is what prompted Walton to dedicate her time to the issue.
In making the presentation, Eric Pollard, Air Quality and Clean Cities coordinator for the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments, described Walton’s contributions to the legislation as “above and beyond to advance the Clean Cities mission not just at 23rd and Lincoln, but across the state.”
Added Pollard: “Over the last year, Amy has put transportation electrification, road use fee policy and advanced vehicle economic development on her back carrying multiple bills across the finish line. Driving conversations, connecting, convening and shaping policy.”
Walton supported the legislation by leading multiple tours for legislators at Spiers New Technologies, an emerging Oklahoma City-based business that provides electric vehicle battery refurbishing, remanufacturing and repurposing services for much of the electric vehicle industry.
“The DRIVE ACT is probably the most important legislation regarding the future of transportation in Oklahoma that has passed in a very long time,” Walton said. “Transportation of the future will look very different in the years to come. As we embrace these emerging technologies, we must begin to envision new ways to pay for infrastructure. I was grateful to be asked to contribute to both the interim study and the language of the legislation that will support both our roads and the evolving future transportation modes of all Oklahomans.”
C. Michael Carolina, OCAST executive director, lauded Walton for taking the initiative to help shape legislation that will be key to future transportation modes and the roads on which those vehicles will drive.
“Amy Walton has real insight into what’s needed to support our infrastructure as electrification as a power source for future vehicles becomes the norm,” Carolina said. “I applaud her willingness to take the initiative and provide input into legislation that is not only important to industry but Oklahoma innovators who are creating new EV technologies.”
Walton is the first non-legislator to receive the Legislative Advocate of the Year Award. Past recipients of the Legislative Advocate Award include current Labor Commissioner Leslie Osborn, Rep. Terry O’Donnell, former State Senator and now Congresswoman Stephanie Bice and Rep. Hill, who was last year’s advocate.
The Clean Cities Annual Awards Luncheon was held at the Devon Boathouse in Oklahoma City.