Infrastructure Top Legislative Priority for Ok Farm BureauThu, 29 Jan 2015 18:29:05 CST
After several years of gridlock, Oklahoma Farm Bureau is excited about the new legislative session. In Washington D.C., Republicans have taken control of the House and Senate. Oklahoma Farm Bureau Vice President for Public Policy and Media Affairs John Collison said Congress is back open for business in 2015. He is excited about having Senator Jim Inhofe serving as Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, along with working with Senator James Lankford and the House Members to start working on government issues like reining in the Environmental Protection Agency and improving the nation's infrastructure.
"Infrastructure is what we need in agriculture to survive, whether it be roads, whether it be water infrastructure, whether it be development, these are the kind of programs that government really is supposed to do on the federal level," Collison said.
At the federal and state level, Collison believes the focus should be on developing the state's natural resources and water needs to be top of mind. He believes the state needs a visionary approach with water development with an overarching plan to get the government planning longterm viability of the state. Water is necessary for agricultural production, along with the oil and gas industries. He believes the state needs to look at developing the excess water in the state, as that could bring billions of dollars of economic incentive. By moving water incrementally from water rich areas, to areas in need of water, that would support the communities, along with tourism, recreation and agriculture.
Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays interviewed Collison about the legislative outlook. Click on the LISTENBAR below to listen to the full interview.
Ok Farm Bureau is hopeful days of gridlock are behind. Collison said early indications are that Congress will get things done this year with more amendments passed since the start of the session, then what Congress has passed in several years. He said Ok Farm Bureau will be going to Capitol Hill several times to meet with their representatives to discuss issues facing the state of Oklahoma and what the federal government can do to help the state government move forward.
Looking at the 2015 Legislative session on the state level, Collison said a lot of the bills are focused on guns and education. The Legislature will face a new challenge with less tax dollars because of the lower crude oil and commodity prices. That will tighten how much money is spent on state programs, which Collison calls a positive thing.
"It really forces government to look at where their resources are being allocated and make sure that they are being spend the correct way," Collison said.
One of the top Legislative priorities for Ok Farm Bureau is wind development. As an organization that promotes and supports private property rights, Collison said they will push for landowner's rights to put up wind turbines on their property, as well as policy to decommission them.
"When these windmills live their life, they need to be taken down." Collison said. "We don't just want them just abandon them, like we used to do with oil wells. That industry has cleaned their act up. The wind industry needs a little bit more language in what they need to in the future, but we are going to fight for private property rights."
Collison will be the featured guest on the In the Field TV segment Saturday morning on KWTV, News9 at 6:40 AM.
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