Bill seeking lower cockfighting penalties passes Oklahoma House

Wednesday, April 23rd 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

(Oklahoma City-AP) -- The Oklahoma House reversed itself Wednesday and passed legislation that asks voters to lower the penalty for cockfighting and spare cockfighters from a prison term.

House members voted 52-to-43 for the measure a day after they defeated it 52-to-47.

A cockfighting question approved by the people last November made it a felony for anyone to raise chickens for fighting. It is punishable by a $25,000 fine and up to ten years in prison.

Gamefowl breeders were in the gallery when the House reconsidered the measure. They said they're relieved the bill was still alive.

Game fowl breeder Kelly Barger says polls have shown most Oklahomans believe the blood sport should be a misdemeanor. The measure proposes to lessen the penalty to a misdemeanor on the first offense, punishable by a $2,000 to $25,000 fine and up to a year in jail.

The measure now goes back to the Senate for consideration of House amendments.