This week marked the first full week of the First Session of the 59th Oklahoma Legislature. This year, legislators wasted no time getting right to work, especially in the Senate where several committees held their first meetings and heard several bills.
SB 494 by Sen. Brent Howard was passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. The bill is similar to a bill Sen. Howard introduced during the 2022 legislative session and would limit payments for damaged crops from pesticide drift to those that are either insurable under the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation program or are crops or plants sold directly by the producer to the consumer. Additionally, damages awarded would not exceed the amount of compensation received by the producer from a yield that can be proven from the affected area.
The Senate Business and Commerce Committee gave Sen. Darcy Jech’s SB 913 a do-pass vote this week. SB 913 would require a medical marijuana grower seeking a business license to obtain a bond of no less than $25,000. The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority would have the right to require a bond greater than $25,000 if it is determined that a higher amount is necessary for the reclamation of the property in the case of a revoked license.
A bond would not be required for those growers that are operating on land that has been owned by the licensee for at least five years prior to the application submission. SB 913 now heads to the Senate floor for consideration by the full body.
A bill that was not heard this week but has been introduced and voted on in previous legislative sessions is HB 1921 by Rep. Lonnie Sims. HB 1921 seeks to create countywide hazard mitigation assessment districts for the purpose of planning, designing, installing, constructing, operating and maintaining hazard mitigation capital improvements.
The districts would be funded by an increase in ad valorem taxes of assessed property across the county and would require the approval of 60% of those voting in the election to be implemented. HB 1921 is scheduled to be heard in the House County and Municipal Government Committee on Monday, Feb. 13.
There were more than 3000 bills filed this year with numerous pieces of legislation dealing with issues of concern to Farm Bureau members. The Oklahoma Farm Bureau public policy team will continue tracking legislation and working on behalf of the values and policies set by Farm Bureau members across the state.
For an update on weekly happenings at the Capitol and an outlook on what is ahead, be sure to tune in to OKFB’s weekly public policy update each Friday at noon.