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Nathanial Batchelder (click image to read news and views from Peace House OK's Director, Nathaniel Batchelder)

Recommendations on the six state questions (and judges)

This year the ballot will contain six state questions for voters to weigh in on.

Consulted groups included the OK Policy Institute, The Oklahoma Observer, State Parties, and individuals.

Quick Summary:

  • Vote “Yes” on #762 to remove the Governor from the Pardon & Parole Board process on nonviolent crimes.
  • Vote “No” on the other five questions (but check on #764 below).

#758 – Lowers the cap on annual increases in taxable value of homestead property and agricultural lands from 5% to 3%. But this adversely affects state funding of public schools, so a “No” vote is recommended.

#759 – Would repeal Oklahoma’s Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity statutes that have helped to level the playing field for women and minorities in state contracting, hiring, and selection of students, so a “No” vote is recommended to save affirmative action. (The language of S.Q. 759 implies that women and minorities are receiving “preferred treatment”. This is false, as Oklahoma’s statute encourages, but does not mandate, equal treatment. There are no quotas, mandates, or set-asides for women and minorities.

#762 – Would remove the Governor from the Pardon and Parole Board process on nonviolent crimes. Any Governor is loathe to agree to recommendations for paroles out of fear that the parolee might commit a crime and they would be blamed. Removing the Governor from the process allows the P&P Board to act more freely. Governor Fallin supported this measure until her Party objected to it. A “Yes” vote is recommended.

#764 – Gives the Oklahoma Water Resource Board (OWRB) authority to issue bonds to be used to create a reserve fund to be used as a last resort if a municipality defaulted on a loan and all other reserve funds had been depleted. (The opinion of Oklahoma Observer Editor Arnold Hamilton is that the OWRB answers to the prompting of the State Chamber of Commerce and Oklahoma City’s “downtown elite”. The use of some $300 million annually is at stake and The Oklahoma Observer opposes giving the OWRB this power. NOTE THAT THE SIERRA CLUB RECOMMENDS A “YES” VOTE, believing S.Q.764 could lead to more water conservation. Vote as your conscience dictates.

#765 – A Constitutional Amendment doing away with the current structure of the Department of Human Services (DHS) and giving the Governor the authority to select the director of DHS. Currently, selection of the director of DHS and oversight of DHS operations is by a commission. No other state authorizes the Governor to select the director of Human Services. Advocates believe this measure threatens DHS operations by making it as political as the Governor’s appointee. A “No” vote is recommended.

#766 – This question eliminates property tax on all intangible property instead of just some intangible property. Intangibles include trademarks, trademark slogans, customer relations, and other issues. Estimates are that this would reduce state funding to public schools by $50 million or more annually. A “No” vote is recommended.

ON THE JUDGES (We vote to “retain” or “dismiss” 12 or 13 Judges)

Attorney Doug Parr knows the ins and outs of Judge selection. He said judges are almost always “retained” with 70% of the vote. Very hard to “dismiss” any Judge. Attorneys I have consulted had no major “red flags” on any of the Judges on the ballots. Follow your own information and conscience.

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