The Oklahoma House of Representatives Agriculture and Rural Development Committee today considered and approved several key bills affecting the agricultural industry.
Each of the below bills now are available for consideration by the full House chamber.
HB 2250, coauthored by Rep. Brian Renegar and Rep. John Enns, prohibits animal rights charitable organizations from raising funds inside Oklahoma for political purposes outside or inside the state. The bill passed out of committee unanimously.
The bill is designed to protect Oklahomans and their charitable contributions by ensuring the donations help local animal shelters, rather than political agendas, Rep. Renegar said.
HB 2500, authored by Rep. John Pfeiffer, allows the Department of Environmental Quality to continue contracting with the Oklahoma Rural Water Association for technical assistance programs to rural water and waste water operators. The bill passed out of committee unanimously.
HB 2554, authored by Rep. Harold Wright, allows the Department of Public Safety to issue learner’s permits and driver’s licenses to temporary farm workers. The bill would allow qualified, temporary workers to work during harvest, Wright said. The bill passed the committee unanimously.
HB 2707, also authored by Rep. John Pfeiffer, creates a special position called the Office of Agriculture Special Prosecutors to enforce agricultural law. Pfeiffer specifically mentioned helping farmers and ranchers in the event of bogus checks.
Farmers and ranchers can lose hundreds to thousands of dollars when receiving bogus checks. Because district attorneys are overworked, agricultural thefts and crimes often are low on the priority list, Pfeiffer said. Appointing a special prosecutor specifically for agricultural law could significantly help farmers and ranchers. The bill passed out of committee by a vote of 7 to 6.
HB 3099, authored by Rep. Jeff Coody, would allow dairy farmers to sell raw milk directly to consumers and at farmers markets. The bill passed out of committee by a vote of 10 to 3.
Find more information about each specific bill at www.okhouse.gov.