BY ARNOLD HAMILTON
We continue to receive queries about the 11 state questions on today’s ballot. The Observer recommends Yes votes on State Questions 744 [education funding mandate] and 757 [increasing the Rainy Day Fund]. We urge the defeat of the other nine ballot measures. [See the Current Issue for more details]
The Oklahoma Policy Institute also is providing an excellent on-line resource to garner more information about the measures. It can be accessed at http://okpolicy.org/state-ballot-measures-november-2010
In addition, the 11 state questions may be read in their entirety at the Secretary of State’s website: https://www.sos.ok.gov/gov/proposed_questions.aspx
The following summary of the 11 state questions appeared in the Sept. 25 edition of The Observer. It was prepared by Valorie Rodgers, research and policy director, in the office of House Democratic Leader Danny Morgan:
SQ 744 seeks to require that funding for public schools be at least equal to the average of the amount spent per pupil by the states surrounding Oklahoma. SQ 744 does not provide a new funding source or raise taxes. The measure provides the Legislature three years to come up with the increased allocation.
SQ 746 would require voters to show photo identification issued by a state, federal or tribal government prior to casting a ballot. The voter can provide their voter identification card issued by a county election board. If a voter cannot present proof of identity, he or she would be allowed to vote by provisional ballot after signing a statement under oath swearing to his or her identity.
SQ 747 seeks to establish term limits for all statewide elected officials. If passed, the measure would limit the Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Treasurer, Labor Commissioner, Superintendent of Public Instruction, and State Auditor to serving no more than two four-year terms in office. Members of the Corporation Commission, who serve six-year terms, would also be limited to two terms.
SQ 748 seeks to alter the membership of the Apportionment Commission, the state panel that redraws state legislative districts if the Legislature fails to do it. The Apportionment Commission is currently made up of the attorney general, the state school superintendent, and the state treasurer. This measure would instead appoint the lieutenant governor, who acts as the chairman but doesn’t get to vote. The President Pro Tempore of the state Senate, the Speaker of the House and the Governor would each appoint one Democrat and one Republican to the commission.
SQ 750 seeks to change the required amount of signatures necessary for initiative and referendum petitions, by making the percentage necessary to be based on the most votes cast for a statewide ballot with the Governor on the ballot, i.e. always non-presidential elections.
SQ 751 seeks to amend the Oklahoma Constitution to make English the official language of state government, and declares that all official actions of the state must be conducted in English. It bars individuals from suing the state to have services provided in languages other than English. The measure allows the “use, study, development, or encouragement” of any Native American language.
SQ 752 seeks to modify the state’s judicial nominating process. It would increase the membership of the Judicial Nominating Commission from 13 to 15 members, with two new, at-large members who are not attorneys. The President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House would each appoint one member.
SQ 754 states that the Legislature can’t be compelled by a formula to provide funding at a certain level. It contains a provision that once it is adopted, it cannot be amended or repealed. If voters approve both SQ744 and SQ754, the measure that receives the most affirmative votes would prevail.
SQ 755 seeks to adopt a “Save Our State” amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution and explicitly states that judicial rulings based in or drawn from foreign precedents have no bearing on Oklahoma state court decisions. The amendment declares that courts “shall not consider international law or Sharia Law.”
SQ 756 seeks to amend the Oklahoma Constitution to prohibit the requirement a person or employer participate in a government-mandated health care system.
SQ 757 amends the Oklahoma Constitution to allow an amount equal to 15% of the previous year’s general revenue certification to be deposited into the Constitutional Reserve Fund, also known as the “Rainy Day Fund.” Currently, the state Constitution requires any funds in excess of estimates be deposited into the Constitutional Reserve Fund until it reaches 10% of the previous year’s general revenue fund collections. Once the fund reaches the maximum amount allowed, additional excess revenue can be used for other purposes.