Governor Fallin Signs HB 2446 - Declares Water a Compelling State InterestTue, 17 May 2016 22:36:40 CDT
On Tuesday afternoon, Governor Fallin signed HB 2446 which ‘declares the protection of the beneficial uses of provided bodies of water in Oklahoma to be a compelling state interest subject to legislative authority and the regulatory authority granted by the Legislature to any state agency assigned with the responsibility within its respective areas of jurisdiction as defined by Oklahoma Statutes’. The bill was authored by Representative Terry O’Donnell and Senator Dan Newberry.
In a letter to Governor Fallin signed by a broad coalition of agriculture groups including American Farmers and Ranchers, Oklahoma Agribusiness Retailers Association, Oklahoma Agricultural Cooperative Council, Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, Oklahoma Cotton Council, Oklahoma Grain and Feed Association, Oklahoma Pork Council, Oklahoma Seed Trade Association and Oklahoma Wheat Growers Association, the organizations stated:
‘On behalf of our respective memberships, we are united in respectfully requesting your signature on HB 2446 –“Declaring the protection of the beneficial uses of certain bodies of water a compelling state interest”. We believe that water is Oklahoma’s most valuable resource and therefore there should be no question that water issues are and should be matters of compelling state interest. The bill’s language codifies that the legislature and the Governor’s office has and will have the authority to define water issues in the state of Oklahoma.’
The agriculture groups, all of whom support SQ 777 – Oklahoma’s Right to Farm, prioritized HB 2446 for this legislative session. Water has been falsely used by some SQ 777 critics. While the agriculture groups believe water has always been and will always be a compelling state interest, HB 2446 should make that fact very clear now by placing specific language into state law.
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