OK Farm Bureau's Steve Thompson Offers This Week's Highlights from the 2019 Legislative SessionThu, 14 Mar 2019 19:26:49 CDT
This Thursday marked another important deadline in the Oklahoma Legislature this session, with all bills required to have flipped out of their chamber of origin and moved through committee. At the close of this week’s session, Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Associate Farm Director Carson Horn caught up with Steve Thompson, assistant director of public policy for Oklahoma Farm Bureau, to discuss the recent activity at the State Capitol this week. You can listen to their complete conversation by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
In a previous conversation, OKFB’s Vice President of Public Policy Ron Justice mentioned that one of the top priorities as always for the organization is protecting Oklahoma’s rural citizens from any negative changes affecting the current tax code, including primarily the preservation of the ag sales tax exemption and ensuring the proper utilization of revenue generated through ad valorem taxes.
Thompson reports this week, that any potential threats that may have been circulating prior to this deadline, seem to have been put to bed. According to him, with no fresh ideas of merit on these subjects, the issue has been tucked away at least for now - putting stakeholders in a fairly safe position for the time being.
In the meantime, other discussions pertaining to greater access to rural healthcare for instance, continue. Thompson says at this time though, the process is merely getting started with much more deliberation needed to fully flesh out possible resolutions.
One measure that has become rather high profile, though, is a bill from Senate Ag Chair Casey Murdock that would limit the amount of land the Oklahoma Wildlife Commission is allowed to purchase. OKFB is joined by several other ag groups in the state in support of this proposed regulation, but other groups have been very vocal in speaking out against SB 703.
“One of the biggest things we’re about is access to land. That’s the biggest limiting factor to keeping a new generation of producers in business and we need all the help we can get,” Thompson said. “We really don’t need our friends in state or federal government competing for purchase of property. We just feel it’s more of a fundamental issue of the private industry not having to compete with the public sector when it comes to acquiring property.”
At present, Thompson says the bill has been stalled and could potentially go dormant for the remainder of this year and quite possibly revisited next session.
With the deadline that has now elapsed, Thompson says now is a critical time to reevaluate the playing field and review the legislation that is still alive. Over the weekend recess, he says lawmakers and advocates will have the opportunity to analyze what is on the table and continue to develop the major priorities for this Legislature moving forward.
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