OKFB Policy Veteran Ron Justice Keeps Watchful Eye on Legislators as Committees Meet this WeekThu, 14 Feb 2019 18:44:24 CST
The second week of Oklahoma’s Legislative Session came to a close this Thursday afternoon. As one of the largest freshman groups ever in the state settles in to their new surroundings and become acquainted with the traditions of the legislative process, legislators have been working diligently in this early stage of lawmaking to defend their bills and see them out of committee. According to Ron Justice, Oklahoma Farm Bureau director of public policy and a former state legislator himself, says it is hard to tell at this point to know what threats or opportunities to agriculture and rural Oklahoma that lie in wait somewhere in the language of the 2,800 bills filed this year. However, he says it is vitally important to pay close attention to the bills that do make it out of committee as they can change significantly by the time they become law, if they make it that far.
In a conversation Thursday afternoon with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Associate Farm Director Carson Horn, Justice explained the complex nature of the legal process. You can listen to their complete conversation by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
“It’s a very lengthy process and we’ve laughed about it some when asked what’s the most frustrating part about the legislature and we say, ‘how long it takes to get something through,’ and then what’s the best thing about – same thing – ‘how long it takes to get something through,’” he remarked. “Because there are good things and bad things about it.”
One of the good things of course, especially from the grassroots perspective, is how Justice explains that the process allows ample opportunity for all parties to review proposed legislation, mull it over and then engage in making it better and beneficial to all those concerned. Conversely, the worst thing that happens is when a bill that has not been fully vetted is implemented and ends up harming people with unintended consequences. In this case, particularly now with so many new faces at the Capitol, Justice says is when groups like Oklahoma Farm Bureau must assume the responsibility of educating legislators of how a bill can negatively impact people.
“It’s great to have new ideas, but with that comes a lot of responsibility because it is important we work with those legislators to help them understand how some of those bills that have been filed can affect rural areas and agriculture,” he said. “We hope we’re a help to them – not a hindrance – as we go through the process.”
At this juncture in the session, Justice says it is still too early to tell where exactly the threats to the ag industry might present themselves. However, the target areas of concern for Farm Bureau generally stay the same – protecting private property rights, avoiding new or manipulating tax structures and protecting producers’ ag sales tax exemption. All of these, he says, are issues OKFB is constantly fighting for.
Hear Justice speak more about his activities at the State Capitol since the 2019 Legislative Session got underway, plus his views on the Governor Stitt’s Administration and other officials, by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below for his full conversation with Horn.
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