Legislative Update: hazard mitigation districts, Medical Marijuana Growers license

This week was a busy one at 23rd and Lincoln as the Legislature was up against the second major deadline of the session. Thursday was the final day for bills to be passed off the floor of their chamber of origin. Following the first deadline at the beginning of the month, around 1,000 bills were still left for consideration. As bills now switch sides to be considered by the opposite chamber, there are roughly 800 bills alive.

Oklahoma Farm Bureau members were pleased that HB 1921 by Rep. Lonnie Sims did not receive consideration on the House floor. HB 1921 sought to allow counties to create hazard mitigation assessment districts to raise revenue that might be used to leverage funds from the federal government to assist with a variety of disaster mitigation uses.

If a county created a hazard mitigation assessment district, the district would have been funded by an increase in property tax on all property within the county. As the bill did not receive approval by the House of Representatives by Thursday’s deadline, the legislation will not be considered further this Legislative session.

SB 913 by Sen. Darcy Jech successfully passed the Senate this week, which will require individuals applying for medical marijuana growers license to obtain a bond of at least $50,000. If the Medical Marijuana Authority or the Department of Environmental Quality deems that the property to be used for the marijuana grow facility requires a larger bond to sufficiently cover a reclamation plan if the medical marijuana license were to be revoked, they would have the ability to require a larger bond to be acquired.

The bill provides an exception to the bond requirement if the applicant has owned the property for at least five years.

HB 2530 by Rep. Justin Humphrey received House approval upon its second consideration in a vote of 51-42 after failing its first consideration with a vote of 50-47. HB 2530 would give counties in Oklahoma the ability to vote to reduce the violation for cockfighting from its current offense as a felony to only a misdemeanor.

Oklahoma Farm Bureau members remain concerned that animal activists that are opposed to HB 2530 will increase their pushback and opposition to normal animal agriculture practices putting farmers and ranchers at risk. While HB 2530 did receive House approval, the unusually close vote makes its future in the Senate somewhat questionable.

Next week, the Legislature will return to committee work in preparation for the April 13 deadline, which will require bills to be passed from the committee of the opposite chamber. Additionally, around 60 Oklahoma Farm Bureau members will travel to Washington, D.C., to talk with the Oklahoma congressional delegation and industry professionals about issues facing the agriculture community in our state and nation.

For an update on weekly happenings at the Capitol and an outlook on what is ahead, be sure to tune in to Oklahoma Farm Bureau’s weekly public policy update each Friday at noon.

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