The state Legislature now has less than two weeks until it is constitutionally required to adjourn this year’s session. The next two weeks are expected to be light in policy bills as the focus shifts to the last major task of passing the budget. House and Senate leadership, along with Gov. Kevin Stitt, announced on May 13 an $8.3 billion budget agreement had been reached.
In the final weeks of the session, Gov. Stitt signed into law several bills Farm Bureau has monitored throughout the session. Last week, he approved both the House and Senate redistricting bills, giving final approval for new legislative district lines. The state Legislature will reconvene in a special session this fall to draw the state’s congressional districts after the U.S. Census Bureau releases final 2020 Census data.
The governor also approved SB 939 by Sen. Zac Taylor and Rep. John Pfeiffer, which prevents cities and municipalities from deeming any action done by a critical infrastructure sector – including agriculture – as a nuisance if such action is in compliance with all applicable rules, regulations and laws. Farm Bureau policy strongly supports the ability of farmers and ranchers to conduct normal production practices without being sued for nuisance. As a critical infrastructure sector, agriculture producers in Oklahoma will be able to feed and clothe the world without the burden of unnecessary and frivolous nuisance lawsuits.
SB 422 by Sen. Frank Simpson and Rep. Dell Kerbs – which provides producers with multiple options to prove eligibility for the ag sales tax exemption permit – saw progress as both the Senate and House conference committees approved amendments to the bill. The legislation now must be approved by the full Senate and House before being sent to the governor’s desk for final approval. Farm Bureau, along with a coalition of 10 of Oklahoma’s leading agriculture organizations, has been working with the Oklahoma Tax Commission since February after hearing concerns across the state from producers who faced obstacles when applying for or renewing an agriculture sales tax exemption permit. In addition to applying for a permit through a county assessor, SB 422 gives farmers and ranchers the ability to prove eligibility for the permit by providing a federal tax form, a one-page business description, an FSA form, or another document created by the tax commission.