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CO - OP LIVI NG


Six more State Questions await voter’s decision on November ballot


By Sid Sperry


hile not as many State Questions (SQs) will be on the ballot as com- pared to the record number of 11 SQs decided upon in 2010, Oklahoma voters will still have plenty to consider when going to the polls on November 6, 2012.


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Six State Questions have been approved by the Legislature for submission to registered voters. State Questions can be presented to voters by way of three different methods: 1) The “initiative petition process,” through which signatures of registered voters are ob- tained, and if enough voters sign the petition, it is validated by the Secretary of State and Attor- ney General, then presented to the people for an election date that is determined by the Governor; 2) The State Legislature can also approve mea- sures to be voted on by the people. This is called a “Legislative Referendum.” (All six of the Novem- ber 6th SQs are via this method.)


3) The third way that a State Question can come about is if citizens present a petition calling for voters to approve or disapprove of a law previ- ously passed by the Oklahoma Legislature. The following are the official ballot titles for each of the six State Questions which will appear on the November 6th ballot, as approved by the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office:


SQ 758: This measure amends the State Con- stitution. It amends Section 8B of Article 10. The measure deals with real property taxes also called ad valorem taxes. These taxes are based on several factors. One factor is the fair cash value of the property.


The measure changes the limits on increases in fair cash value. Now, increases are limited to 5 per- cent of fair cash value in any taxable year. The measure changes the cap on increases to 3 percent for some property. The 3-percent cap would apply to homestead exempted property. The cap would also apply to agricultural land. The measure also removes obsolete language.


SQ 759: This measure adds a new section to the State Constitution. It adds Section 36 to Article II. The measure deals with three areas of government action. These areas are employment, education and contracting.


In these areas, the measure does not allow af- firmative action programs. Affirmative action


6 OKLAHOMA LIVING


programs give preferred treatment based on race, color or gender. They also give preferred treat- ment based on ethnicity or national origin. Dis- crimination on these bases is also not permitted. The measure permits affirmative action in three instances: 1) When gender is a bona fide qualifi- cation, it is allowed; 2) Existing court orders and consent decrees that require preferred treatment will continue and can be followed; 3) Affirmative action is allowed when needed to keep or obtain federal funds.


The measure applies to the State and its agen- cies. It applies to counties, cities and towns. It ap- plies to school districts. It applies to other State subdivisions.


The measure applies only to actions taken after its approval by the people.


SQ 762: This measure amends Section 10 of Article 6 of the Oklahoma Constitution. It chang- es current law, decreasing the power and authority of the Governor by removing the Governor from the parole process for persons convicted of cer- tain offenses defined as non-violent offenses. It enlarges the power and authority of the Pardon and Parole Board by authorizing that Board, in place of the Governor, to grant parole to persons convicted of certain offenses defined as non-vio- lent offenses.


The Legislature defines what offenses are non- violent offenses and the Legislature may change that definition.


The measure authorizes the Pardon and Parole Board to recommend to the Governor, but not to itself grant, parole for persons convicted of certain offenses, specifically those offenses identified by law as crimes for which persons are required to


serve not less than 85 percent of their sentence prior to being considered for parole and those designated by the Legislature as exceptions to non-violent offenses.


For those offenses for which persons are re- quired to serve a minimum mandatory period of confinement prior to being eligible to be con- sidered for parole, the Pardon and Parole Board may not recommend parole until that period of confinement has been served.


SQ 764: This measure amends the Oklaho- ma Constitution. It adds a new Section 39A to Article 10. It would allow the Oklahoma Water Resources Board to issue bonds.


Any bonds issued would be used to provide a reserve fund for the Board. The fund would be a reserve fund for certain water resources and sew- age treatment funding programs. The fund could only be used to pay other bonds and obligations for the funding programs.


The bonds could only be issued after other monies and sources are used for repayment. The bonds will be general obligation bonds. Not more than $300 million worth of bonds could be issued. The Legislature would provide the monies to pay for the bonds. The Legislature would provide for methods for issuing the bonds. The Legisla- ture would provide for how the fund is admin- istered.


SQ 765: The measure amends the Oklahoma Constitution. It abolishes the Oklahoma Depart- ment of Human Services, the Oklahoma Com- mission of Human Services and the position of Director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. These entities were created under differ- ent names by Sections 2, 3 and 4 of Article 25 of the Oklahoma Constitution and given duties and responsibilities related to the care of the aged and needy.


The measure repeals these sections of the Con- stitution and consequently, removes the power of the Commission of Human Services to establish policy and adopt rules and regulations. Under the measure, the Legislature and the people by initia- tive petition retain the power to adopt legislation for these purposes.


The measure adds a provision to the Constitu- tion authorizing the Legislature to create a de- partment or departments to administer and carry out laws to provide for the care of the aged and the needy. The measure also authorizes the Legisla-


Photo couresty Karen Kaley/Cotton Electric Co-op


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