Monday, Feb. 5, marked the start of the second regular session of the 59th Oklahoma legislature with Gov. Kevin Stitt’s annual State of the State address.
Now in his sixth year in office, Gov. Stitt has taken the podium each February to shed light on Oklahoma’s triumphs and challenges as well as to share his vision for the future of the state. Several of Stitt’s key points in his 2024 address coincide with the policies set by Oklahoma Farm Bureau members and the work of the grassroots farm organization.
In his speech, Stitt emphasized his determination to make Oklahoma the most business-friendly state in the nation, and OKFB is playing a part in that very mission through the newly founded Oklahoma Grassroots Rural and Ag Business Accelerators program. The accelerators program spurs agricultural and rural innovation through providing an opportunity for rural entrepreneurs and business owners to grow their ideas and bring their businesses to life, creating economic opportunities in rural Oklahoma.
Stitt also reiterated the importance of a strong education system – something that Farm Bureau members know is crucial to the continued vibrance of rural Oklahoma. While Stitt highlighted the formation of more charter schools in Monday’s address, Farm Bureau members stand firm in the importance of strong rural schools that give students the same opportunities for education and career tracks after high school, whether students attend school in Broken Arrow or Balko.
Stitt called for increased jurisdictional clarity in light of the United States Supreme Court’s 2020 McGirt ruling, which labeled much of eastern Oklahoma as a tribal reservation under the Major Crimes Act and removed the state’s jurisdictional authority to prosecute criminal cases that occur in Indian Country. The McGirt decision is concerning to many farmers, ranchers and landowners in eastern Oklahoma as it has created jurisdictional uncertainty for the prosecution of criminal acts committed by and against tribal members and nonmembers alike.
Stitt commended the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority for their work to rein in Oklahoma’s marijuana industry since the passage of State Question 788 in 2018. Farm Bureau members are appreciative of the state’s work to get a firm grasp on the processes and regulations in place to restore order in an industry that took rural Oklahoma by storm.
Throughout his address, Stitt underscored his resolve to pass tax cuts for hardworking Oklahomans, including the elimination of the state income tax. While Farm Bureau members have long supported lowering taxes, OKFB maintains a strong stance against new or increased ad valorem taxes, which inequitably impact farmers and ranchers, to recoup any lost revenue incurred from lowering or eliminating other taxes.
In Stitt’s words, the state of Oklahoma is the strongest it has ever been, and OKFB members look forward to the opportunity to participate in another legislative session to ensure continued success and prosperity for all Oklahomans.