This morning, Kenny Bob Tapp presents his arguments against SQ777, and this afternoon we will hear from Jessica Sheffield-Wilcox arguing in favor of SQ777. My thanks to both of them for participating in this discussion.
SQ777: Right To Farm Or Harm?
A Rancher’s Perspective
by Kenny Bob Tapp
Rights such as the right to your person, property, and own industry are Inalienable, granted to you by your Loving Creator, which means they cannot be tampered with, providing no one else is harmed by them.
I believe Oklahoma State Question 777 is being supported by mostly well intentioned people. At first it sounded great to this Oklahoma Rancher, until I actually took the time to read the language. Not only was it too vaguely written, but I also started to see the red flags.
The first red flag was the "compelling state interest" language. Farm Bureau representatives have told me it would have to be decided in the courts, and the thought of 777 eventually winding up before the same State Supreme Court that opinionated against the last two Life initiative petitions should send chills up your spine. These two proposed amendments would have likely ended abortion in Oklahoma. This same Court also opined that the 10 Commandment’s monument be removed. It’s also interesting that Farm Bureau President, Tom Buchanan, told a group in Norman back in September regarding the “Compelling State Interest” language, “I wish it wasn’t in there.” [*1] The major proponents of 777 have taken one out of Nancy Pelosi’s play book: "We'll have to pass it to see what's in it."
Also, it would hamper if not prevent the Oklahoma Farmer and Rancher from taking legal recourse against a major ag corporation if their property, water, crops, or livestock are harmed by the corporation's farming practice. To add fuel to this fire, OUR water was made a "Compelling State Interest" with the passage of HB 2446 this last legislative session as a bone thrown to the leftist groups in an attempt to get them on board with 777. [*2]
Concerns with this provision: “Nothing in this section shall be construed to modify any provision of common law or statutes relating to trespass, eminent domain, dominance of mineral interests, easements, rights of way or any other property rights. Nothing in this section shall be construed to modify or affect any statute or ordinance enacted by the Legislature or any political subdivision prior to December 31, 2014.” Many conservatives and those of us in agriculture see that our liberal State Supreme Court would very likely codify with a court opinion the detrimental eminent domain laws and laws prior to 2014 that attack our rights, such as prohibiting individuals from taking their eggs outside of their farm to sell without a license (state permission).
SQ777 does not protect our inalienable rights already given to us by our Creator to make a living and handle our property as we see fit, as long as we do not interfere with another’s right. This proposed constitutional amendment simply removes the artificial controlling authority of those Inalienable Rights from the state legislature, whom we can easily replace with other candidates, to a tyrannical supreme court that is almost impossible to remove.
There are those who claim that 777 would prohibit unconstitutional intrusion into our farms and ranches here in Oklahoma by federal agencies such as the EPA, USDA, etc. This is simply not the case, looking at the language and as also admitted by my State Representative and a Farm Bureau Rep at a town hall meeting I attended.
Many are supporting 777 out of blind fear simply because infamous groups such as HSUS oppose it. Our concerns should be with a group that has had a very detrimental effect to Life and Liberty in Oklahoma, The Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce. If you look at the authors and sponsors of 777, the majority of them are State Chamber backed candidates.
For almost 10 years of my citizen grassroots involvement in promoting 2nd Amendment legislation, abolish abortion legislation, free market efforts, and opposing insurance exchange efforts (Obamacare) in Oklahoma, the Oklahoma State Chamber and their controlled legislators have been at the forefront of stopping or opposing all these efforts and more.
My point is, while we haven't had any negative effects by the infamous HSUS in Oklahoma who oppose 777, Life and our freedoms have taken a huge hit from the infamous State Chamber, who apparently is the huge reason we have 777 on the ballot in Oklahoma.
Our Inalienable "Right To Farm” is already protected in the Oklahoma Bill of Rights: Section II-2: Inherent rights. “All persons have the inherent right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the enjoyment of the gains of their own industry.” [*3]
Rights, such as the rights to our persons, property, and own industry, are solely gifts from our Loving Creator, not men. I urge my fellow farmers/ranchers and conservatives to hold on to those rights and refuse to grant them to the state via a rogue Oklahoma Supreme Court by voting No on SQ 777 (Right To Harm).
Kenny Bob Tapp and his wife, Rachel, live in Cimarron County, where he works on his family's ranch.