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Oklahoma City Council considers stance on state agriculture question

Photo via Thinkstock.com
Photo via Thinkstock.com

The Oklahoma City Council will consider passing a resolution urging residents to consider the possible negative effects of State Question 777 before voting on the measure in November.

The state question would make it harder to pass new laws regulating agriculture in the state.

Pete White, Oklahoma City Ward 4 councilman's resolution asks voters to "carefully study and consider all the potential adverse effects of State Question 777 on the health, safety and welfare of OKC residents."

White said he is asking the city council to pass the resolution because he believes SQ 777 would limit the city's ability to pass ordinances restricting livestock in the city limits. White said he also is concerned about what effect the measure will have of the city's water quality in the future.

"It's just bad government — the idea that the Legislature would pass this law that if you vote for this we would never be able to regulate the agricultural industry ever again," White said. "We've got all these livestock restrictions and all of that would be at risk."

'Compelling state interest'

SQ 777 is a constitutional amendment that would prevent Oklahoma lawmakers from passing legislation to regulate agriculture unless it has a “compelling state interest.” The state is set to vote on the ballot measure in November.

The state question would not reverse any state statutes or ordinances enacted before Dec. 31, 2014, but any law regulating agriculture passed after that date would be subject to repeal.

A growing list of Oklahoma cities have passed resolutions opposing State Question 777, including Choctaw and Edmond. The Association of Central Oklahoma Governments, which represents municipalities in central Oklahoma, also passed a resolution opposing the measure earlier this month.

Concerns unfounded?

Tom Buchanan, president of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau, said the concerns of many municipalities are unfounded and based on misinformation.

Most zoning and municipal ordinances would not change, and any issue relating to water quality would be protected under the measure's "compelling state interest" clause, Buchanan said.

Cities will be largely unaffected, he said, because most farming happens outside of cities.

"Large-scale production is not something that happens in cities," he said. "I don't raise cattle in downtown Oklahoma City."

SQ 777 is a constitutional amendment that would prevent Oklahoma lawmakers from passing legislation to regulate agriculture unless it has a “compelling state interest.”

Brianna Bailey

Brianna Bailey joined The Oklahoman in January 2013 as a business writer. During her time at The Oklahoman, she has walked across Oklahoma City twice, once north-to-south down Western Avenue, and once east-to-west, tracing the old U.S. Route 66.... Read more ›

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