The pace at the state Capitol was significantly slower this week compared to the hustle and bustle of the previous week. According to the state Constitution, the legislative session must end no later than Friday, May 27; however, early chatter indicates both chambers are aiming to finish sooner in hopes of jumping on the campaign trail before the June 28 primary election.
In addition to the usual budget negotiations, this period of session consists of the two chambers hammering out final negotiations and agreements on bills that have been amended multiple times throughout the legislative process. Several bills related to medical marijuana are in such negotiations.
This session began with 20-30 marijuana bills of high interest to Oklahoma Farm Bureau members. While several bills have passed, multiple bills failed to meet previous deadlines. Currently, OKFB is working with a coalition focused on six medical marijuana bills that will hopefully make it through to Governor Kevin Stitt’s desk.
Additionally, legislation targeting issues within the ad valorem assessment dispute process are being refined by legislators and stakeholders before pursuing final approval from the legislature and the governor. While discussions and negotiations on these bills have occurred throughout the session, final details must be agreed upon before the two bodies adjourn for the 2022 session.
In anticipation of a budget agreement announcement expected in the coming days, Farm Bureau has engaged with appropriators to encourage and request funding for drought relief and issues related to veterinary medicine.
While recent rain across much of the state has reduced some drought concerns, other parts of the state are still experiencing dangerous drought conditions. Oklahoma legislators created the Emergency Drought Relief Fund in 2013; however, it has gone unfunded since then. OKFB has worked with stakeholders and legislators to prioritize dollars for the fund to mitigate drought implications and to provide relief for areas of the state currently experiencing drought.
Farm Bureau members are well aware that the shortage of large-animal veterinarians is reaching concerning levels across the state. OKFB is hopeful that this year’s budget will include incentives for large-animal veterinarians practicing in rural Oklahoma. Additionally, OKFB supports increased funding to the College of Veterinary Medicine at Oklahoma State University to ensure that OSU remains a top university for students pursing veterinary medicine.
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.