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Cockfighting proposal headed to House
By Jack Money
The Oklahoman

A measure calling for a statewide vote to lessen penalties in Oklahoma's anti- cockfighting law is on its way to the full House for consideration.

Members of the House Criminal Justice Committee sent along Senate Bill 835 on Tuesday.

The bill proposes a statewide vote in November 2004 on whether the law's penalties should be reduced from felonies to misdemeanors.

The legislation isn't well-liked by anti- cockfighting supporters, who believe it is simply an attempt to undo the results of last year's statewide election banning the sport.

Before the election, Oklahoma was one of three states that permitted cockfighting.

The law approved by voters makes it a felony to instigate or encourage cockfighting; keep places, equipment or facilities for cockfighting; aid or assist in cockfighting; or own, possess, keep or train birds for cockfighting.

Anyone convicted of those crimes could face one to 10 years in prison and a fine of not less than $2,000 nor more than $25,000.

About 56 percent of voting Oklahomans approved the law during last year's election. Bird owners in dozens of counties are challenging the law's constitutionality.