There’s a lot going on at the Capitol right now, with bills coming through committee and starting to make their way to the floor. This past week, I chaired the first meeting this session of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

We approved Senate Bill 1271, the Oklahoma Meat Consumer Protection Act. The bill would make it illegal to misrepresent the cut and grade of meat—for example it couldn’t be labeled as “prime” if it’s not graded prime by the USDA or call something a tenderloin if it’s really a chuck steak.

But this bill also addresses another critical issue on the horizon—laboratory produced products. We’re not talking about something like a veggie-burger. This is something produced in a lab, grown from animal cells. While it’s still in the research and development phase, there are companies who aim to have these products available for consumers in the next few years. Under SB 1271, they would have to clearly label what the product is. Unless it came from actual livestock, they couldn’t claim their lab-grown product was beef. I think this is an important distinction not just for producers, but for consumers as well.

We also passed Senate Bill 1274, which repeals the Oklahoma Fuel Alcohol Act. This was a provision which enabled individuals and businesses to manufacture alcohol for use as a motor fuel, but just was not being used. This kind of manufacturing is big in huge corn states like Iowa, but not in Oklahoma, so it’s time to modernize the statutes.

Both bills now move to the full Senate for further consideration.

The full Senate passed an important public safety bill on Wednesday. House Bill 2336. Currently, for school personnel to carry on school grounds, they must be CLEET certified. But that training can be expensive and time prohibitive. Under HB 2336, local school boards could opt to replace the 240-hour CLEET training with either an eight-hour concealed carry class or 72 hours of armed security guard training along with active shooter training conducted by local law enforcement.

This legislation would be particularly helpful to rural schools that can’t afford a resource officer or other security and may be some distance from local law enforcement, making it difficult for them to arrive quickly in an emergency. This gives our local, rural schools a more affordable way of helping protect students. The bill now goes back to the House.

Also, work continues on an Oklahoma plan to increase access to healthcare through a program being developed in cooperation with President Trump’s administration. I’ll keep you posted as details become available.

In addition to legislative action, we also observed Higher Education Day this past week at the Capitol and we had groups here representing Panhandle State University and Northwestern University. We also welcomed a Ringwood student who a member of FCCLA—Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, a Career and Technical Student Organization.

I want to thank all our constituents who took the time to visit us here at the Capitol, advocating for key issues and being a part of the political process. It’s an honor to serve you all.

This is your State Capitol, and I look forward to welcoming you to the Senate. You can reach me by calling 405.521.5626 or emailing murdock@oksenate.gov.

Casey Murdock represents District 27 in the Oklahoma State Senate.

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