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[Archived] Poultry-backed measure approved at Capitol.

| News | January 13, 2016

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A Senate resolution sought by the poultry industry but opposed by the attorney general was approved 10-5 on Thursday in the Senate Energy and Environment Committee.

No public comments were taken before the vote that sends Senate Concurrent Resolution 22 on to the full Senate.

"I was very disappointed I was not given an opportunity to speak to this," Attorney General Drew Edmondson said.

Sen. Mary Easley, D-Tulsa, who led the meeting, said she asked for comments but realized later that those attending might have thought that only the senators could speak.

Edmondson said the committee passed a "bad resolution" intended to force state agencies to give information to the poultry industry that it could use in a lawsuit.

The attorney general has threatened to sue the poultry industry for failing to negotiate over allowable phosphorus levels in state waterways.

After a bill that would have restricted his ability to file lawsuits without the approval of the Legislature or the governor was withdrawn, Edmondson announced that he plans to resume water-quality talks that had stalled in early January.

Sen. Richard Lerblance, D-Hartshorne, confirmed that he was asked to sponsor the resolution by John Henry Ward, a lobbyist for the Poultry Federation of Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.

SCR 22 calls on state environmental agencies to show how they have addressed water-quality standards.

Ward said the poultry industry is not seeking the resolution to be confrontational with the attorney general.

"Who in their right mind would want to take on the AG? This is just about what the law says," Ward said.

He said he thinks an examination of laws and rules will show that the state Agriculture Department can determine what constitutes excess chicken litter and how to handle the problem.

Lerblance said the agencies would be required to provide only information that already is public, according to the state Open Records Act.

Edmondson said that would require an assistant attorney general to be on hand to help agencies make those determinations.

Senators voting for the resolution were Lerblance; Johnnie Crutchfield,D-Ardmore; Cal Hobson, D-Lexington; Owen Laughlin, R-Woodward; Mike Johnson, R-Kingfisher; Kenneth Corn, D-Poteau; Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant; Daisy Lawler, D-Comanche; Tom Adelson, D-Tulsa; and Todd Lamb, R-Edmond.

Voting against were Easley; Nancy Riley, R-Tulsa; Randy Brogdon, R-Owasso; Clark Jolley, R-Edmond; and James Williamson, R-Tulsa.

Mick Hinton (405) 528-2465