OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Cracking down on criminal organizations who are buying up Oklahoma land for pot farms was the intent of a new law set to go into effect in November. However, there are worries the language was too broad.
“The language was overly broad,” said Senator Mike Brooks-Jimenez, D-Oklahoma City.
Senator Brooks-Jimenez has been concerned about SB 212.
The author, Senator David Bullard R-Durant, told News 4 it was “an important step to help us shut down the foreign buy-out of our state by communist China and Cartels.”
The bill, signed into law in June, also addressed straw owners, which is an illegal way to get around a state law that says an Oklahoman must own 75% of a marijuana grow. The other 25% owner can be out-of-state.
Bullard told News 4 lawmakers “worked with the AG’s office in drafting it and worked on the language for three years.”
Senator Brooks, an immigration attorney, initially voted against the bill out of concern for people in Oklahoma who are not citizens, but can still legally buy property. Those include visa and green card holders as well as 31,000 people in Oklahoma with Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN). Brooks said ITINs paid $26m in state income taxes last year alone.
“Their impact on the economy and their ability to buy property is a big deal for sure,” said Senator Brooks.
Under the new law, the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office said it will create a form that would ensure that the “property rights of US citizens and other bona fide residents are protected, while prohibiting land ownership by illegal foreigners.”
“Even small lines in a single document can sort of change the meaning of of what that document does,” said Will Gattenby, the interim CEO of the Oklahoma Association of Realtors.
Just before lunchtime Wednesday, the OAR and the AG’s office agreed on verbiage.
“One of the many papers you’ll sign will now will be an affidavit that says, ‘I’m a legal buyer of property in the state of Oklahoma,'” said Gattenby. “I want the realtors across Oklahoma to know, don’t worry, the law is substantively the exact same as it was. If you’ve got someone who was a qualified buyer last week, they’ll be a qualified buyer next week with this law.”