Conservation District Act Revised!

Director Election Dates Changed and Much More

Senate Bill 1766, by Sen. Charles Wyrick and Rep. Dale DeWitt, updates the Conservation District Act with changes and additions. Gov. Brad Henry signed the bill into law on May 2, becoming effective immediately.

“This bill makes some positive changes that should advance the cause of conservation in Oklahoma. We will now begin updating our rules to comply with the new law,” said Mike Thralls, OCC executive director.

Here are some highlights:

  1. Authorizes (but does not fund) a revolving fund for districts to purchase equipment.
  2. Authorizes (but does not fund) a revolving fund to help with expenses incurred if districts choose to consolidate.
  3. Authorizes OCC to make rules for the Carbon Sequestration Certification Program and to charge fees if necessary.
  4. Changes district board position titles from “chairman to chair,” from “vice chairman” to “vice chair” and from “secretary/treasurer” to “treasurer.”
  5. Establishes that conservation district employees are “at will” employees.
  6. Changes elected-director three-year terms to begin on July 1 and end on June 30.
  7. Changes appointed-director two-year terms to begin on July 1 and end on June 30.
  8. Changes directors’ per diem for attending monthly board meetings from $25 to “not to exceed $50 per meeting.”
  9. Changes the director election date from the second Tuesday of March to the first Tuesday of June, and changes the filing period from the first three weeks in January to the first three weeks in April.
  10. Establishes that, except as otherwise provided by state or federal law, conservation districts’ flood control structure operation and maintenance responsibilities shall not be deemed to include maintaining, protecting or improving the quality of any soil, air, groundwater or surface water or biota (living things) affected by, near or comprising any part of the structure.
  11. Allows directors to purchase health insurance in the insurance plan offered to district employees.
  12. Establishes that a conservation district employee who transfers to a state agency will not lose service time accrued for calculating longevity and leave benefits.