One bill seeking to revamp who Oklahoma sheriff’s offices can hire as appraisers for foreclosed properties died Wednesday, according to the lawmaker who proposed it. Another slightly more stringent bill was held up, but may yet make it into law.

Sen. Dan Newberry, R-Tulsa, said Wednesday afternoon he would not be pursuing SB 1201 this year, but would attempt to get something similar passed in the next legislative session. However, HB 2380, proposed by Rep. Regina Goodwin, D-Tulsa, still has a chance.

Both laws sought to overhaul the county appraisal program. As the law exists now, a county sheriff can hire anyone he or she may want to appraise foreclosed properties. Former Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz was widely criticized when it was revealed the majority of his 11 appraisers were not licensed in any capacity, and all had donated to his prior campaigns for sheriff.

Sen. Dan Newberry, R-Tulsa. Courtesy.

Sen. Dan Newberry, R-Tulsa. Courtesy.

Glanz resigned last year after being indicted by a grand jury on two misdemeanor crimes. Former TCSO PIO Shannon Clark testified in front of that grand jury that Glanz required a maximum $2,700 donation to his campaign in order to become a county appraiser.

County appraisers here are paid $99 per appraisal, and make tens of thousands of dollars a year.

Newberry’s bill had drawn support from the Oklahoma Sheriffs’ Association, a non-profit group that represents the 77 elected sheriffs in the state. Newberry and the association worked to remove language over “third-affinity relationships” in the hiring process.

Newberry’s proposed law originally barred county sheriffs from hiring anyone as an appraiser who was related to the sheriff, or any sheriff’s office employee — meaning cousins, nieces, nephews, grandparents, and in laws would be exempt from becoming an appraiser.

However, Goodwin’s proposed law still includes that language, the only substantive difference between the two bills. If her bill passes, all county appraisers will have to hold a real estate sales or broker license, something Newberry said would bring much-needed oversight.

“Before, you had it where a sheriff could hire any Tom, Dick, or Harry to do these,” he said. “

If the law is changed, “we’ll be getting valuations that are based on real information, and not from the possibility for someone to make up a value and go with it,” he said.

Oklahoma Sheriff's Association Executive Director Ray McNair. Courtesy.

Oklahoma Sheriff’s Association Executive Director Ray McNair. Courtesy.

However, OSA executive director Ray McNair has opposed Goodwin’s bill from the beginning, he said. He feels the “third-affinity” language is too burdensome to sheriff’s offices both large and small.

“You’re talking about Oklahoma and Tulsa counties, where sheriff’s offices have hundreds of employees, and you want the sheriff to spend their time making sure that his appraiser isn’t related in any way to any of these hundred employees?” McNair said.

“We’re not against restricting who can do an appraisal, because the old bill allowed you to just go and hire your brother, or anyone to do it, and who knows if that person knows what he’s even doing. But the third-degree of affinity in her bill is just too much of a burden.”

McNair also said that many small counties in Oklahoma would also be unduly burdened by the law. Nineteen counties here have fewer than 10,000 residents, McNair said, and their sheriff’s offices could struggle to find appraisers who aren’t related to a deputy or jailer.

“Her bill is fine, except for that language,” McNair said. “That’s why we disagree with it, and we’ve disagreed with it from the start.”

Goodwin said on Wednesday she “didn’t buy” the OSA’s reservations.

“They can hire a real estate agent from another county to come do (the appraisal),” she said. “So I don’t agree with their complaints.”

Sheriff Vic Regalado has said he wants to ensure all TCSO policies are followed. A gun used in a fatal shooting last year still hasn't been tested, despite policies requiring such tests. DYLAN GOFORTH / The Frontier

Sheriff Vic Regalado. DYLAN GOFORTH / The Frontier

Newly-elected Tulsa sheriff Vic Regalado said he has already begun reforming the way the much-maligned Tulsa County appraiser system works. Regalado met with his 11 appraisers earlier this month and told them they would have to reapply for their positions. He told the Tulsa World that his family members and campaign donors would not be eligible to work as appraisers.

However, while the appraisers must eventually re-apply, they are still working as the program is in the process of being revamped. Some of those appraisers, hired under Glanz, donated to Regalado’s campaign.

Others, such as Robert Bates’ daughter or the wife and daughter of attorney Clark Brewster, are part of the perceived cronyism complaints that dogged Glanz.

Rep. Regina Goodwin, D-Tulsa. Courtesy.

Rep. Regina Goodwin, D-Tulsa. Courtesy.

Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Office Director Casey Roebuck said no official timeline exists for the overhaul of that appraisal program, though Regalado has said he would like for the re-application process to begin in June or July.

The majority of the TCSO appraisers do not hold a real estate sales or broker license. Regalado, in a statement, said he did not wish to comment on the proposed legislation. He said he used Goodwin’s bill as “a guide” to revamp the assessor program.

“I felt these changes were necessary based on the circumstances surrounding the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office,” he said in the statement. “Even though this policy works for TCSO, I understand other agencies may not have these same issues. So they may feel implementing these changes wouldn’t be necessary for their county.”

Newberry praised Regalado for the changes, saying the new sheriff “has a lot of cleaning up to do.”

“I want to underscore my applauding of what he’s done over there,” Newberry said. “He had a mess, and this is one step to cleaning up that mess.”