The Oklahoma Senate Agriculture and Rural Development Committee today approved two key bills affecting agriculture including animal theft and burn bans.
Punishment for the theft of cattle and other domestic animals would be toughened under HB 2504 by Rep. John Pfeiffer and Sen. Ron Justice. Passed unanimously by the committee, the bill would increase the fine to three times the value of the animals stolen. The fines would be returned to the animal owner, rather than a state agency.
Thieves also would be charged and punished per animal stolen. Before, thieves could steal however many they wanted, but now there is a penalty per animal, Sen. Justice said in the meeting. The bill now is referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee, where it must pass to be heard on the Senate floor.
Another bill passed by the committee would protect farmers and ranchers needing to manage their land with prescribed burn. Under HB 2646 by Sen. Don Barrington, Rep. Kevin Wallace and Rep. Scooter Park, agricultural producers would be exempt from burn bans during periods of extreme fire danger as long as they meet certain notice and planning requirements.
HB 2646 is now eligible to be heard on the Senate floor.