Oklahoma Ag Groups Unite and Stand Together- Get Key Compromise as HB 1992 Passes HouseFri, 14 Feb 2020 04:31:36 CST
The Oklahoma House of Representatives easily passed a measure on Thursday that would create Oklahoma Public Safety Protection Districts- the measure being promoted by the Oklahoma Municipal League. The vote on the House floor was 76 to 20- and for agriculture, changes in the proposal over the last four days made the bill more palatable to the major ag groups in the state. You can listen to our audio report of the work done this week by clicking on the LISTEN BAR below.
Heading into the second week of the session, it appeared that the authors of the bill had the votes to push this measure through with a provision that would allow these districts to be established by a simple majority vote- well under the sixty percent yes vote required for other votes by the people setting ad valorem tax levels for education. While the measure does have an exemption for agricultural land and for livestock, groups like American Farmers and Ranchers, the Oklahoma Farm Bureau and the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association all were strongly opposed to the bare majority language in the bill.
Several lawmakers sided with the ag groups, including the first term lawmaker who now holds the seat held by Don Armes of Comanche County, Trey Caldwell of District 63. Caldwell told Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays that from Monday to Thursday a united stand by Ag Groups helped bring the Municipal League back to the negotiating table, got the 50% vote changed to a 60% threshold and earned a pledge from supporters of HB 1992 that they would not try to undo the effects of the amendment in the Senate.
Caldwell says while he offered the amendment to get the 60% level in place- he still does not like the additional taxes that could result- and was one of twenty lawmakers who voted against the measure.
Ag Groups, including the OCA, AFR and OkFB, all were pleased with the work to get this concession into the language approved in the House on Thursday- Steve Thompson with Oklahoma Farm Bureau says that the compromise repesents a "good step towards equalizing a policy stance that our members felt very passionate about."
The Oklahoma Farm Report talked with representatives of the Ag Groups as well as with Representative Caldwell at the 2020 Sirloin Club Banquet held Thursday evening in Edmond- (the picture above is Trey Caldwell receiving one of five Top Agriculturalists Under 40 Awards given by the Sirloin Club at the event)
HB 1992 was introduced in the first session of the 57th Legislature (last year) and did not have to go through the Committee process in the House allowing it to have a relatively early floor vote this year- it will have to go through the Committee process in the Senate so it won't start that journey until Senate Committees pick up House bills in a few weeks.
Listen to our audio report that includes comments from Caldwell and Thompson by clicking on the LISTEN BAR below.
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