After the state Legislature surpassed its first major deadline where bills were required to advance out of their committee of origin to remain alive in the legislative process, the total number of proposed bills were reduced from more than 3,000 to only a little more than 1,000.
Below, learn about some of the remaining bills on Oklahoma Farm Bureau’s list.
PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS
HB 1135 by Rep. Scott Fetgatter
Allows landowners to use purple posts to indicate no trespassing in lieu of a readable sign. For one year, purple posts would need to be accompanied by a sign explaining that the purple post means no trespassing.
OKFB comment: Farm Bureau staff is working with the author to explore elimination of all posting requirements, rather than the current proposal which adds optional posting methods.
OKFB policy: “We urge more effective enforcement by county and state law enforcement agencies of existing laws with respect to trespassing, hunting, illegal entrance on and the destruction of private property.”
HB 1497 by Speaker of the House Charles McCall
Prevents non-citizen residents from buying land in Oklahoma if they were citizens of a country that does not allow Oklahoma citizens to purchase land in their country.
OKFB comment: The bill is truly a work-in-progress. OKFB expects the proposed language to remain fluid for the next several weeks.
OKFB policy: “Oklahoma Farm Bureau opposes ownership of Oklahoma agricultural land by foreign corporations.”
HB 1833 by Rep. Mark McBride
Prevent any nuisance action against oil and gas activities that have lawfully been in operation for two years prior to the date the action is brought.
OKFB comment: OKFB is working with the oil and gas industry to create safeguards for landowners, while ensuring the precedent we previously established for limiting lawsuits against ag producers remains consistent.
OKFB Policy: “We support laws to ensure that farmers be protected from undue liability and nuisance suits when carrying out normal production practices.”
HB 1986 by Rep. Judd Strom
Requires state agencies that own, operate, or lease land in Oklahoma for livestock grazing to fence, or enclose, their property and maintain the enclosure. State agencies could enter into a labor cost-sharing agreement with adjacent landowners.
OKFB comment: OKFB strongly supports. Staff is working to ensure any unintended consequences are addressed.
OKFB policy: “Fences on government land need to be maintained by the government. Agencies developing wildlife preserves and other recreational areas should be required to maintain fences and exhaust all efforts to ensure that privately owned property is not subject to trespassing or vandalism.”
SB 776 by Sen. Casey Murdock
Prevents the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission from purchasing land at a price greater than the appraised value and would keep the commission from purchasing the land until after it had been offered publicly for sale for at least six months at a fair market value.
OKFB comment: Farm Bureau strongly supports the legislation.
OKFB Policy: We oppose the Wildlife Department buying up land for its department. The state Wildlife Department has acquired land which it leases for farming purposes. Recent studies have shown that well-managed grazing can actually improve wildlife habitat. These lands should be leased for grazing purposes, also.
TAXES AND FINANCES
HB 1682 by Rep. Jim Grego
Prevents the Oklahoma Tax Commission from requiring a Schedule F as proof of eligibility for the agriculture sales tax exemption.
OKFB comment: OKFB staff and leadership has tried to resolve this issue directly with the Oklahoma Tax Commission, but have been unable to gain their cooperation. This legislation is critical in order to address several improper administrative requirements recently applied.
OKFB policy: “Protecting existing sales tax exemptions for agriculture uses should be a top priority. OKFB should participate in any effort to reform the sales tax exemption to prevent abuse, and work to maintain our existing exemptions.”
HB 2092 by Rep. Lonnie Sims and SB 189 by Sen. Dave Rader
Allows counties to create hazard mitigation assessment districts upon approval from 60% of voters. Counties could assess up to an additional 2 mils on land within the county boundaries to pay for a variety of items including administrative costs, hazard mitigation capital improvements, securing matching funds from state and federal government, and public health hazard mitigation plans.
OKFB comment: OKFB is strongly opposed. An action alert requesting OKFB members contact legislators and ask for a no vote has been issued. As currently written, urban majorities could pass a property tax increase on all rural landowners. An alternate proposal would exempt agriculture land, but would create zoning regulations for unincorporated areas.
OKFB policy: “We oppose increases in ad valorem taxes, but if any additional revenues are needed, we would favor use of sales or income taxes which have a broader usage base.”
SB 838 by Sen. Darrell Weaver
Allows municipalities to create public safety protection districts upon approval from 60% of voters. Municipalities could then assess up to an additional 5 mils on eligible property to fund and maintain safety equipment and vehicles as well as pay salaries and benefits to law enforcement and fire protection employees.
OKFB comment: Negotiations are ongoing. The current proposal would only apply within municipal boundaries and contains exemptions for agriculture-zoned land and livestock. OKFB is working toward an additional exemption for equipment, trailers and farm machinery.
OKFB policy: We oppose any increase to rural ad valorem taxes by any municipality. We oppose municipalities being granted the authority to levy ad valorem taxes. If the legislature does grant this authority, the following should be included in the law:
Municipalities that offer no municipal services cannot levy a tax. A new ad valorem tax must be approved by a two-thirds (2/3) vote. Increases in ad valorem taxes must require a two-thirds (2/3) vote of all affected property owners. A maximum rate of three (3) mills. No ad valorem taxes may be used to pay wages. A sunset provision of not less than three (3) years on the ad valorem tax. If any portion of this law is deemed to be unconstitutional, the entire statute shall become null and void.
HB 1580 by Rep. Mickey Dollens
Prohibits a dog owner from chaining or tethering a dog for longer than five hours. Dogs confined outside must be kept in an enclosure that is at least 100 square feet and have access to a shelter that is enclosed on at least three sides, roofed, and has a solid floor.
OKFB comment: OKFB is working with sporting dog groups to educate legislators about existing animal cruelty statutes. Farm Bureau is concerned the bill could create opportunities for restrictions on the ability of farmers and ranchers to use proven, science-based production practices to raise livestock.
OKFB policy: “We support farming and ranching practices that benefit the consumer, the environment and animal life. We oppose the enactment of laws and regulations based on misinformation and emotion against productive farming and ranching practices. Farmers’ and ranchers’ views should be considered.”
HB 1620 by Rep. Garry Mize
Prohibits any county, municipality, state agency or political subdivision from creating or enforcing an ordinance, rule or regulation banning the rights of Oklahomans to engage in agritourism activities.
OKFB comment: This bill began as a specific protection for working animals, but after objections from municipalities, it was modified to more broadly address agritourism, which includes animal activities in the definition.
OKFB policy: The Oklahoma Agritourism Activities Liability Limitations Act statute should include protection for those farmers, ranchers and landowners that provide agritourism activities, including but not limited to hunting, fishing, picking fruits and vegetables and photography, without being registered with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry as an agritourism professional.
RURAL HEALTH CARE
HB 2089 by Speaker of the House Charles McCall
Creates a tax credit for doctors graduating from a college of medicine or osteopathic medicine in Oklahoma or have completed residency in Oklahoma and who then live and practice in a rural area or a tribally owned or operated health facility.
OKFB comment: OKFB strongly supports. This proposal has been introduced in previous years, but never achieved final passage.
OKFB policy: “We support programs and legislation that will encourage medical doctors to establish practices in rural Oklahoma.”
HB 2779 by Rep. John Pfeiffer
Sets limits on how much rural electric cooperatives can charge communication service providers for pole attachments. It also sets further requirements for pole attachment relocation and television or video services and restricts higher attachment rates than what other attachments with the same utility are charged.
OKFB comment: A work-in-progress, as many groups collaborate to seek the proper balance between electric cooperative financing and rural broadband accessibility.”
OKFB Policy: “We support efforts to improve service to underserved populations in the state, including utility service providers providing broadband to their members/customers. We support allowing electric cooperatives to use their existing easements and broadband infrastructure without compensation to landowners, solely for the purpose of providing broadband service, if the landowners’ use of easements is unaffected and no other damages or loss of property values are incurred. Cooperatives may extend broadband through their cooperatives or through partnerships with telephone cooperatives or other internet providers.”
HB 1032 by Rep. Garry Mize
Exempts the production and sale of certain homemade food items from licensing and other requirements from the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry and the Oklahoma State Department of Health. Items including meat, seafood, raw milk and alcohol would not be exempt.
OKFB comment: Farm Bureau continues to work with the author and other stakeholders to prioritize food safety in efforts to decrease regulation and oversight on home bakers.
HB 1942 by Rep. David Smith
Requires that in areas served by a volunteer fire department, all emergency calls received through the 911 system be dispatched to the nearest volunteer fire department to the call location regardless of fire district.
OKFB comment: OKFB strongly supports efforts to create a dispatch system with the quickest possible response to emergency calls.
OKFB policy: “911 calls and rural emergency services should be improved to call and dispatch based on location sites, not county lines. We support rural fire district lines based solely on distances from stations without regard for county lines.”
SB 939 by Sen. Zack Taylor
Prevents any action by critical infrastructure sectors that follows all government rules, guidelines or laws from constituting a nuisance.
OKFB comment: Farm Bureau is working with a large coalition of other critical infrastructure sectors to support this bill. It would protect farmers and ranchers from nuisance suits for basic agriculture practices.
OKFB policy: “We support laws to ensure that farmers be protected from undue liability and nuisance suits when carrying out normal production practices.”