The chairman of the Joint Legislative Committee on Animal Waste and Water Quality is calling the panel's first meeting today a "good, first step," stressing that the hog and poultry farming issue will remain at the top of the legislative priority list.
"We wouldn't have held a hearing on this issue three days before Christmas if we didn't think it was very important. We're going to keep working on this through the holidays, doing whatever is necessary to have legislation ready for the fast track when we reconvene in February. It won't be an overnight process because there's a lot of ground to cover," said Senator Kevin Easley, Senate chairman of the legislative committee.
The legislative panel is developing legislation based upon the recommendations of a statewide citizens task force. That group made numerous recommendations, including a county option veto power of animal feeding operations and a one-year moratorium on the licensing of new operations.
State Environmental Secretary Brian Griffin and State Agriculture Commissioner Dennis Howard testified about the recommendations before the legislative panel today.
"If anything, the testimony underscored the fact that this is a very complicated issue which doesn't lend itself to any quick fix solution. We have to approach it very carefully, making sure we think about the long term health of Oklahoma's environment, not just the headlines in tomorrow's newspaper," said Senator Easley.
The special legislative committee is expected to hold its next meeting during the week of January 5th. The panel is hoping to have legislation ready for consideration when lawmakers return from the 1998 session in February.