Oklahoma Legislature: Honey Sales Act, Agritourism Limited Liability Act, and Home Bakery Bills Signed into Law

Oklahoma Honey Sales Act Signed

On April 10th, 2013, Governor Mary Fallin signed SB 716, the Oklahoma Honey Sales Act by Senator Eddie Fields (R-Waynoka) and Representative Donnie Condit (D-McAlester), which becomes effective immediately!  The Oklahoma Honey Sales Act exempts beekeepers with annual production of less than five hundred 500 gallons from regulation and inspection by the State Department of Health for the manufacture, sale, and distribution of honey and honeycomb products in Oklahoma if they meet the certain requirements. The bill also prohibits any county, municipal corporation, consolidated government, or political subdivision from adopting or continuing in effect any ordinance, rule, regulation, or resolution prohibiting, impeding, or restricting honey sales or distribution in compliance with the act.

SB 716 passed unanimously with the support of the Oklahoma Beekeepers Association and the Oklahoma Farm and Food Alliance’s outreach and education.  We want to thank the members of Oklahoma’s Legislature for adopting such sound policy and lessening the burden on Oklahoma’s honey producers.  Most beekeepers in Oklahoma produce less than 500 gallons of honey each year and will greatly benefit from clarity in the regulatory structure.

Oklahoma Home Bakery Act Signed

On April 15th, 2013, Governor Mary Fallin signed HB 1094, the Oklahoma Home Bakery Act into law, by Representative Dustin Roberts (R-Durant) and Senator Frank Simpson (R-Ardmore), which becomes effective November 1, 2013.

The Oklahoma Home Bakery Act defines a home food establishment as a business on the premise of a residence in which prepared food is created for sale or resale and has gross annual sales of less than $20,000. It also specifies what does not constitute as a home food establishment and provides a definition for prepared foods. It exempts any person operating a home food establishment from the licensing requirements of the State Department of Health; however, it permits the department to request written documentation in order to verify the gross annual sales of a home food establishment. It requires a home food establishment that sells prepared food to affix a label that contains: the name and address of the home food establishment, the name of the prepared food; and the following statement printed in at least 10-point type in a color hat provides a clear contrast to the background of the label: “Made in a home food establishment that is not licensed by the State Department of Health.” The bill states that a violation of the Home Bakery Act of 2013 shall be a misdemeanor and shall be punishable by a fine not exceeding $100. It adds that nothing in the act shall be construed to prevent counties from enacting ordinances regulating the operation of home food establishments, provided such ordinances do not conflict with the provisions of the Home Bakery Act of 2013.

After adoption of HB 1094, the other Cottage Food Law proposed by SB 920 by Senator Ron Justice (R-Chickasha) and Representative Dennis Casey (R-Morrison) will most likely be amended or used for other purposes.  The deadline for bills passing through the opposite chamber is next Thursday, April 25th.

Oklahoma Agritourism Limited Liability Act Signed

On April 12th, 2013, Governor Mary Fallin signed HB 1638, the Oklahoma Agritourism Limited Liability Act into law. HB 1638 by Representative Scott Biggs (R-Chickasha) and Senator Ron Justice (R-Chickasha) establishes that an agritourism professional and whose agritourism activity is registered with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry is not liable for injury to or death of a participant resulting from the inherent risks of agritourism activities, provided a specified warning is posted as required and unless the agritourism professional commits an act or omission that constitutes negligence or willful or wanton disregard for the safety of the participant, and that act or omission proximately causes injury, damage, or death to the participant or has actual knowledge or reasonably should have known of a dangerous condition on the land, facilities, or equipment used in the activity or the dangerous propensity of a particular animal used in such activity and does not make the danger known to the participant, and the danger proximately causes injury, damage, or death to the participant, and that no participant or participant’s representative can maintain an action against or recover from an agritourism professional for injury, loss, damage, or death of the participant resulting exclusively from any of the inherent risks of agritourism activities.

The bill provides that in any action for damages against an agritourism professional for agritourism activity, the agritourism professional must plead the affirmative defense of assumption of the risk of agritourism activity by the participant and that the limitation of legal liability is in addition to any other.  The Oklahoma Agritourism Limited Liability Act becomes effective immediately.

Farmers Market Bill Signed 

HB 1039 by Representative Dennis Casey (R-Morrison) and Senator Eddie Fields (R-Pawhuska) passed the Senate on April 18th, 2013 and is heading to Governor Mary Fallin’s desk for her signature.

HB 1039 modifies current tax code by reclassifying farmers markets as a separate category for sales tax collection and remission, from a “special event” to a more permanent event.  With this change in classification, event organizers, generally volunteer market managers, are no longer liable for sales tax collection and remission for their entire market.  Representative Casey has introduced this legislation the past two years as an easy fix to a burdensome tax situation.  Congratulations Representative Casey and thank you for your diligent efforts!

Meanwhile, SB 488, the Oklahoma Inmate Farm Worker Act by Senator Susan Paddack (D-Ada) and Representative Josh Cockroft (R-Tecumseh) has yet to receive a floor vote in the House, which it must do before advancing past next Thursday’s legislative deadline.  The Oklahoma Inmate Farm Worker Act authorizes the Department of Corrections to develop an inmate farm worker program that provides inmate labor to Oklahoma farms and ranches for purposes of performing farm related labor. It directs the Department of Corrections to develop a program that at minimum provides qualifications for inmates to participate, wages, qualifications of participant farms and ranches and any other provisions the department deems necessary. It also exempts the inmate farm worker program from any provisions of law prohibiting the use of inmate labor for the benefit of private persons.

If you have specific thoughts on this proposal, please contact Bud Scott, OFFA Executive Director, or contact your Representative and let them know what you think of the legislation.

Health and Nutrition Bills Advance

On April 18th, 2013, the Oklahoma Senate approved HB 1113 by Representative Wade Rousselot (D-Wagner) and Senator Earl Garrison (D-Muskogee) which now moves to the desk of Governor Mary Fallin for final approval.  HB 1113 will become effective November 1, 2013 and authorizes county commissioners to provide incentive awards to employees for participating in voluntary wellness programs which result in improved health. The bill allows each county to establish a Wellness Council to develop a wellness program for county employees and requires the council to establish determining factors in order to monitor achievement of and maintenance of healthy lifestyles with the ultimate goal of reduction of claims and subsequent reduction of costs for health insurance. The bill provides that participation in the program will be available to all full-time employees. The bill allows each county to establish a separate fund designated “Wellness Program Fund” and that fund may be used for incentives to encourage participation by employees and for costs related to operation.

The Josephine Meade Anti-Hunger Act (HB 1418) by Representative Richard Morrisette (D-OKC) and Senator Al McAffrey (D-OKC) has passed the Senate with amendments and now returns to the House for final approval.  The Josephine Meade Anti-Hunger Act directs the State Department of Education to work together to prevent food waste and to distribute food to students in need. It directs the Department to promulgate rules regarding leftover foods in school cafeterias. The bill adds that any donor who makes a good-faith donation to a charitable organization or nonprofit corporation shall be required to provide the food source name of all ingredients that could contain major food allergens pursuant to the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004.

For further inquiries, comments, or concerns, please contact Bud Scott with the Oklahoma Farm and Food Alliance.

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