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State Question 777: Let's check the facts

The debate over State Question 777 is a heated one, with both sides making some interesting claims. Some are based in fact, some are half true and others not true at all. Below, I've tried fact check some of the things I've been hearing from both pro- and anti-777 groups over the past few months. 

Claim: Proponents claim the measure is needed to protect Oklahoma farmers from animal welfare laws such as California's Proposition 2, a ballot measure requiring egg-laying hens in the state to be kept in roomier cages. The pro-777 side claims the measure has led to skyrocketing egg prices in California. 

Reality: According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Center, avian flu, higher feed prices and drought were at least partially responsible for a 17.8 percent increase in California egg prices in 2015. The USDA projected retail egg prices in California would decline 14-15 percent as the market recovered from the avian flu outbreak. 

Claim: Opponents claim SQ 777 was created by the pro-business American Legislative Exchange Council

Reality: ALEC drafted a piece of model legislation called the Right to Farm Act in 1996 to help protect farmers from nuisance lawsuits. Oklahoma has had laws on the books protecting farmers from nuisance complaints since 1980. In 2009, Oklahoma House Bill 1482, called the Right to Farm Act, further strengthened those protections.  In contrast, State Question 777 embeds protections for agriculture into the state constitution, making it harder to enact new laws regulating farming and ranching practices in the state. SQ 777 originated in the Oklahoma Legislature as House Joint Resolution 1012 in 2015.

Claim: Opponents claim cockfighting could become legal again in the state if SQ 777 passes. 

Reality:  The measure states that it would not reverse any state statutes or ordinances enacted before Dec. 31, 2014. Oklahoma voters approved a ban on cockfighting in 2002. 

Claim: Proponents claim that opposition to SQ 777 is funded by animal rights groups. 

Reality: The Oklahoma Stewardship Council, an anti-777 group, does receive a majority of its funding from the Humane Society of the United States, but also has many other small, individual donors. 

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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 ›