Question Submitted by Burns, 031518 OKAG, 2018 OK AG 1

Docket Nº:2018 OK AG 1
Party Name:Question Submitted by: Douglas E. Burns, Chairman, Bd. of Regents for the OSU and Okla. Agricultural and Mechanical Colleges
Attorney:MIKE HUNTER ATTORNEY GENERAL OF OKLAHOMA AMANDA OTIS ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
Case Date:March 15, 2018
Court:Oklahoma Attorney General Opinions
 
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2018 OK AG 1

Question Submitted by: Douglas E. Burns, Chairman, Bd. of Regents for the OSU and Okla. Agricultural and Mechanical Colleges

No. 2018 OK AG 1

Oklahoma Attorney General Opinions

March 15, 2018

MIKE HUNTER ATTORNEY GENERAL OF OKLAHOMA

AMANDA OTIS ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL

¶0 This office has received your request for an Official Attorney General Opinion in which you ask, in effect, the following question:

Does the requirement in 70 O.S.2011, § 3418 that a Board of County Commissioners dedicate county ad valorem tax revenues to fund the county's cooperative extension office violate OKLA. CONST. art. XXI, § 1 or OKLA. CONST. art. X, § 9?

I.

BACKGROUND

¶1 Established by the Smith-Lever Act of 1914 (the "Act"), the Cooperative Extension Program (the "Extension Program") is designed as a partnership between the United States Department of Agriculture and the states' land-grant universities to promote and disseminate "useful and practical information on subjects relating to agriculture, uses of solar energy with respect to agriculture, home economics, and rural energy[.]" 7 U.S.C. § 341. "Cooperative agricultural extension work shall consist of the development of practical applications of research knowledge and giving of instruction and practical demonstrations of existing or improved practices or technologies" regarding the subjects listed above, to be "carried on in such manner as may be mutually agreed upon by the Secretary of Agriculture and the State agricultural college[.]" Id. § 342. Congress is authorized to appropriate funds to states that participate in the Extension Program, subject to the requirement that the states match the amount of federal funds appropriated. Id. § 343(a), (e).

¶2 Oklahoma participates in the Extension Program through the Board of Regents for the Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical Colleges (the "Board") and Oklahoma State University ("OSU"). 70 O.S.2011, § 3418. Section 3418 provides, in relevant part, as follows:

The Board...shall organize and conduct agricultural extension work under the direction of [OSU], and may accept federal funds for such purpose and comply with federal laws providing for cooperative agricultural extension work as follows: 1. The provisions of [the Act], and any other federal authorizations providing federal money to State Extension Divisions, are hereby accepted by the State of Oklahoma; and the state hereby agrees and obligates itself to comply with all the provisions of said Acts and assents to the receipt of grants of money authorized by the Acts, paid annually to each state which by the action of its Legislature has assented to the provisions of the aforesaid Acts;

2. The Board...acting for and on behalf of [OSU] is hereby authorized to receive the grants of money appropriated under said Acts, and to organize and conduct agricultural extension work, which shall be carried on in connection, and under the direction of [OSU] in accordance with the terms and conditions expressed in the Acts of Congress aforesaid, any other Acts supplemental thereto, or any rules and regulations promulgated under authority granted in the aforesaid federal acts[.]

Id. In addition to the involvement of the Board and OSU in the Extension Program, Section 3418 contemplates, and indeed requires, operational and financial cooperation from Oklahoma counties: 3. Subject to approval of the board of county commissioners' annual estimate of needs by the excise board, the board of county commissioners of the respective counties of the state shall contract and agree with the Department of Agriculture of the United States of America and [OSU], or with the authorized agent or agents of said Department of Agriculture and said University, to cooperate with the Department of Agriculture and [OSU] in conducting farm demonstration work and home demonstration work including 4-H club work in their respective counties under such rules and regulations as may be prescribed jointly by the Department of Agriculture and [OSU]. Such agreement shall be in writing, signed by the members of the board of county commissioners and the authorized agent of the United States Department of Agriculture and [OSU], and may be entered into at any regular or adjourned session of said board, after the 30th day of June of each year. The board of county commissioners shall...

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