The chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee will lead the legislative push to regulate hog and poultry farming operations this coming legislative session. Senator Paul Muegge is in the process of drafting legislation that will ultimately carry proposals based upon the recommendations of Governor Keating's Waste and Water Quality Protection Task Force.
"We have to protect our air and water resources. It's in everyone's best interest to preserve our environment, whether you're an industry leader or an average citizen. If we don't implement some safeguards to protect our water and do it quickly, our state won't be a fit place to live or do business," said Senator Muegge.
The Tonkawa legislator will file two bills, one addressing hog operations and one poultry, that will be used to strengthen regulations governing the animal livestock industries. The legislation is expected to contain all of the recommendations made by the Governor's task force.
"I think the Governor's recommendations are a good starting point. We can improve on those recommendations and we will certainly consider other ideas as well," said Senator Muegge.
"I think it's critical that we bring all the stakeholders to the table, from average citizens to corporate operators to small, independent producers and contract growers. If we all work together for the good of the state and its environment, we can pass historic legislation that protects our natural resources and preserves the high quality of life to which Oklahomans have grown accustomed."
Muegge is expecting bi-partisan support for the legislation from both the rural and urban areas of Oklahoma.
"This is about clean air and water, not party labels or rural versus urban politics. Everyone, regardless of their political affiliation or district make-up, should support steps to preserve our environment for future generations. I commend Governor Keating for stepping out on this issue and hope that he will remain involved throughout the process," said Senator Muegge.
"We can't afford to put this issue on the back burner. It must be addressed and resolved this session."
Senate President Pro Tempore Stratton Taylor has appointed Muegge to a special legislative task force that will begin working on the issue before the legislative session formally convenes in February.