Both chambers hit the ground running this week as attentions focused back to committee work as the deadline for most bills to receive approval from the committee opposite their chamber of origin is Thursday, April 14.
SB 1624 by Sen. Adam Pugh and Rep. Dell Kerbs sought to transfer the school lunch program from the State Department of Education to the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry. The goal of the transfer was to house the school lunch program within a department already focused on feeding Oklahomans and to open up new ways for schools to partner with local producers. Following concerns from committee members, the bill failed to receive the necessary votes to proceed to the House floor. The committee now retains ownership of the bill, and it could receive a second hearing next week ahead of the Thursday deadline.
The House Agriculture Committee heard SB 1110 by Sen. David Bullard and Rep. Justin Humphrey which would direct the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry to request a waiver from the United States Department of Agriculture to allow a pilot program for remote meat inspection. If approved, state-inspected meat processors would be allowed to have their meat inspected remotely by a certified inspector utilizing continuous streaming viewing technologies. The pilot program would only be utilized for intrastate meat sales. Following several questions regarding what such a program might mean for food safety, the bill was laid over in hopes of addressing committee members’ concerns. It will be available for consideration again next week.
HB 2179 by Rep. Scott Fetgatter and Sen. Jessica Garvin received approval from the House Business, Commerce and Tourism Committee on April 7. HB 2179 would set up a tiered application fee system for medical marijuana growers. The bill sets up three categories of growers – indoor, outdoor and greenhouse – and each category has eight tiers based on square footage of growing area. The base fee begins at $2,500 for growers with 1,667 square feet or less, no matter the category in which they fall. HB 2179 still needs to receive approval from the full House Appropriations and Budget Committee. While most bills require approval from committee by April 14, bills assigned to the House Appropriations and Budget Committee have an extended deadline of April 22.
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.