The state Legislature this week saw its first significant deadline of the 2021 legislative session as Thursday was the final day for bills to be passed out of a committee of their chamber of origin. The week’s deadline reduced the number of active bills and resolutions from the more than 3,000 originally filed. Lawmakers will now have two weeks to pass the remaining bills off the floor of their chamber of origin.
Unfortunately, House Bill 2092 and Senate Bill 189, which would each create hazard mitigation districts funded by a new property tax, both advanced out of committee. OKFB has expressed numerous concerns with the expansive tax assessment as well as the wide scope of possible uses for the assessed dollars. OKFB has worked to create a larger coalition to oppose the bills and will continue to inform legislators of the negative impact such legislation could have not only on farmers and ranchers but also all property owners and businesses. Farm Bureau members should be ready to contact their legislators on both of these bills. Sign up for OKFB legislative action alerts here.
Several bills seeking to expand broadband access also passed committees this week. Broadband has been a Farm Bureau priority issue for years, as many farming and ranching practices now use advanced technology that often require reliable internet service. OKFB will continue to work with legislators as well as electric cooperatives and other internet service providers to improve access to quality, high-speed internet across the state.
Redistricting committees from both chambers this week announced they will move forward with drawing state House and Senate districts, though final 2020 Census data is not expected to be released from the U.S. Census Bureau until Sept. 30. Due to a requirement in the Oklahoma Constitution, state legislative districts will be drawn this session using population estimates from the 2015-2019 America Community Survey. However, Oklahoma will wait to create congressional district maps in a special session to be announced after they receive final census data this fall.
If state legislative district maps created during the current legislative session are not within a 5% deviation of the final census data, adjustments will be made during the special session. This year, all Oklahomans will have the opportunity to submit their own maps for consideration by the state Legislature. If you are interested in creating your own map, participate in a virtual town hall on Monday, March 1 at 6 p.m. to learn how to utilize the redistricting map software. The deadline to submit a map is April 4 at 5 p.m.
As always, Farm Bureau members are encouraged to continue engaging with the OKFB’s legislative work by signing up for legislative action alerts, participating in weekly policy update calls and watching weekly Lincoln to Local videos. For more information, please contact the OKFB Public Policy staff at (405) 523-2300.