The state Capitol was busy this week as the legislature comes up on its first major deadline of the 2023 session. Thursday, March 2nd is the final day for bills to move out of their assigned committees.
SB 333 by Sen. Darrell Weaver was heard in Senate Retirement & Insurance on Tuesday but failed due to the lack of a motion to approve. If passed, SB 333 would have allowed municipalities to transfer any cost related to worker’s compensation or medical treatment of a first responder diagnosed with PTSD due to a work related incident to the property taxes of all property within the service district of the first responder’s department.
This means that a municipality would have the legal authority to raise property taxes on those in unincorporated areas outside of the municipality. While SB 333 failed in committee, the same legislation is in HB 2398 by Rep. Neil Hays which was passed from the House Judiciary committee and awaits consideration by the full House of Representatives.
HB 1921 by Rep. Lonnie Sims and SB 647 by Sen. Dave Rader have yet to be heard in committee but could be placed on an agenda for next week. HB 1921 would create countywide Hazard Mitigation Assessment Districts which would be funded by a countywide property tax increase. As Farm Bureau members have long been opposed to property tax increases, the OKFB public policy team will continue engaging in conversations with legislators to ensure member concerns are represented should the bill be considered in committee.
SB 647 would allow county commissioners in counties with populations greater than 200,000 to establish and enforce fines and penalties for violations of the county’s health inspection, property maintenance and building regulations. OKFB believes a multitude of regulations could be enforced in unincorporated county areas under those three categories.
Farm Bureau members have several concerns about the impacts such regulations could have on farmers and ranchers operating within normal and appropriate agriculture practices in such counties. Additionally, while the 200,000 population parameters would only allow such practices in three counties currently, several other counties in Oklahoma would likely reach that threshold in the coming years.
This week, Oklahoma Farm Bureau also held its annual Leadership Conference in Oklahoma City. Following a full day of speakers discussing a variety of topics important to Oklahoma farmers and ranchers, 15 members from six county Farm Bureaus visited with their legislators at the state Capitol to discuss legislation and issues impacting rural Oklahoma and agriculturalists in the state.
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 via Zoom.