The 2020 Oklahoma legislative session encountered many challenges including a health emergency that forced the state Capitol to close for six weeks, a state revenue failure and numerous gubernatorial vetoes. This year was difficult from start to finish, but Oklahoma Farm Bureau continued to engage lawmakers from around the state on a daily basis about our priority issues.
Despite spending fewer days in session than any legislature in Oklahoma history, a few bills did successfully complete the process.
The legislation explained below can be a helpful guide for OKFB members as they prepare to discuss policy issues at August Area Meetings and develop grassroots policy throughout the fall.
Below are nine bills of interest that are set to become state law.
Rep. Danny Sterling, Tecumseh, and Sen. Julie Daniels, Bartlesville
Limits the opportunity for groundwater rights to be acquired through eminent domain. Signed by the Gov. Kevin Stitt on March 5.
Rep. Justin Humphrey, Lane, and Sen. David Bullard, Durant
Authorizes the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry to promulgate rules for slaughter facilities and to seek USDA approval of new standards for meat inspection. Signed by the governor on May 20.
Rep. Toni Hasenbeck, Elgin, and Sen. Micheal Bergstrom, Adair
Creates legal definitions for the terms “beef”, “pork”, “livestock” and “meat”. Prohibits a person advertising, offering for sale or selling meat to engage in any misleading or deceptive practices and establishes guidelines. Signed by the governor on May 19.
Rep. Charles McCall, Atoka, and Sen. Greg Treat, Oklahoma City
Modifies the initiative petition process to require three or more data points to accompany an individual signature on a petition, which may include the voter’s first name, last name, zip code, house number, and numerical month and day of birth. Signed by the governor on May 21.
Rep. Charles McCall, Atoka, and Sen. James Leewright, Bristow
Creates a 12-member Rural Broadband Expansion Council to conduct a study of rural broadband access in Oklahoma. It requires the council to divide the state into geographic areas based on existing broadband capability, cost of service, estimated costs for improving access, likelihood of changes in access in the future, need for change in law and policy impacting the ability to access broadband services at a reasonable price. The council also is directed to study incentives or programs that would improve existing rural broadband access and establish broadband access to areas which currently do not. Vetoed by the governor on May 19, veto overridden by the Legislature on May 22.
Sen. John Michael Montgomery, Lawton, and Rep. Marcus McEntire, Duncan
Modifies the authority of Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists to administer anesthesia in collaboration with a medical doctor, osteopathic physician, pediatric physician or dentist. Signed by the Governor on May 7.
Sen. Roger Thompson, Okemah, and Rep. Kevin Wallace, Wellston
Increases from 50% up to 75% of the internship and residency training subsidy provided by the Physician Manpower Training Commission be used for the rural and medically underserved areas of the state. Signed by the governor on May 19.
Sen. Chuck Hall, Perry, and Rep. Garry Mize, Edmond
Creates the Oklahoma Farmers Market and Farmers Hub Act, with legal definitions for the terms “farm food”, “farm food producer”, “farmers hub”, “farmers market”, “farm-direct marketer” and “value-added processor”. It requires the market be open at least one day per week and at least four months of the year and conduct direct sales from producers to consumers. Signed by the governor on May 20.
Sen. Dave Rader, Tulsa, and Rep. Terry O’Donnell, Catoosa
Creates the Oil and Gas Water Recycling and Reuse Act. Clarifies that prior to extraction, groundwater – including its constituent elements – is the property of the owner of the surface estate and is subject to the right of the mineral owner or the oil and gas lessee, to extract the water as is reasonably necessary for the exploration or extraction of hydrocarbons. Signed by the governor on May 19.
Several measures were considered by legislative committees and began to advance, but ultimately failed or were sidelined due to concerns about their impact. As OKFB members prepare to discuss and develop policy in the fall, it’s important to note these unsuccessful bills that can often give a window into what will be introduced next session.
Rep. Jadine Nollan, Sand Springs, and Sen. Darrell Weaver, Moore
Would have created the Oklahoma Public Safety Protection District Act. This proposal would have allowed municipalities to conduct an election to consider creation of a new ad valorem tax in order to fund purchases of public safety equipment and vehicles, salaries of municipal law enforcement, fire protection and emergency medical personnel. A controversial and contentious piece of legislation that was first considered in 2019, this bill advanced out of the House of Representatives this year, but never received a hearing in the Senate and failed to advance before the May 15 deadline.
Rep. Lonnie Sims, Jenks, and Sen. Dave Rader, Tulsa
Would have created the Oklahoma Hazard Mitigation Assessment District Act. Similar to HB 1992, this bill would have allowed a county to conduct an election to consider creation of a new ad valorem tax in order to fund hazard mitigation or disaster recovery projects. OKFB actively worked with a coalition to oppose this measure and it failed on the House floor by a vote of 33 to 64 on March 9.
Rep. Chris Kannady, Oklahoma City, and Sen. Kim David, Porter
Would have required the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry to establish rules mandating buffer zones where industrial hemp crops could not be grown and limit the number of applications for industrial hemp grower licenses. This proposal was approved by the House of Representatives, but never received a hearing in the Senate and failed to advance before the May 15 deadline.
Sen. Julie Daniels, Bartlesville
Would have reduced the amount of interest an oil or gas producer is required to pay mineral owners when royalty payments are not made in a timely manner and extended the time period allowed for the first royalty payment from six months to one year. This bill advanced out of the Senate Energy Committee, but never received a hearing in a subsequent committee and failed a Feb. 27 deadline.
Sen. Adam Pugh, Edmond, and Rep. Garry Mize, Edmond
Would have changed the name of the Home Bakery Act of 2013 to the Homemade Food Freedom Act and exempted certain homemade food products from all licensing and inspection requirements of the State Department of Health and of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry. This proposal actually passed both the House and Senate once, but due to a last minute House amendment, would have been required to pass the Senate again, causing the bill to ultimately fail a deadline on May 15.
OKFB members are encouraged to attend an August Area Meeting, the kickoff of the organization’s grassroots policy development process. Stay tuned for the announcement of dates and details.
For more information, please contact OKFB Public Policy staff at (405) 523-2300.