2018 Oklahoma State Questions at a Glance
State Questions are proposals to change Oklahoma law or the Oklahoma State Constitution that will appear on the ballot in the general election. Voters will choose ‘yes’ or ‘no’ depending on whether they support the change or not. State Questions may be hard to understand with complicated language. The following is a breakdown of the pros (benefits) and cons (harms) of each State Question appearing on your ballot in November.
State Question 788, Passed July 26, 2017
Legalizes the licensed use, sale, and growth of marijuana in Oklahoma for medicinal purposes. A license, which must be approved by an Oklahoma Board certified physician, would be required for the use and possession of marijuana for medicinal purposes. The license would be issued by the State Department of Health if the applicant is 18-years-old and an Oklahoma resident.
The state question means a person with a state issued medical marijuana license can:
- Consume marijuana legally
- Legally possess up to three ounces of marijuana on their person
- Legally possess six mature marijuana plants
- Legally possess six seedling plants
- Legally possess one ounce of concentrated marijuana
- Legally possess 72 ounces of edible marijuana
- Legally possess up to eight ounces of marijuana in their residence.
State Question 793
The proposed amendment would add a Section 3 to Article XX of the Oklahoma State Constitution to allow optometrists and opticians to practice in retail mercantile establishments. The measure defines optometrists as “a person licensed in Oklahoma to practice optometry,” and defines opticians as “a person who fills prescriptions for ophthalmic lenses, including but not limited to spectacles, contact lenses, from licensed optometrists or ophthalmologists.” Retail mercantile establishments are defined in the measure as “a business establishment selling merchandise to the general public.”
The amendment would allow the state Legislature to enact legislation to:
- Prohibit or limit the performance of laser or other surgical procedures within retail establishments;
- Limit the number of office locations optometrists can practice in;
- Maintain license requirements for optometrists;
- Require that optometrist offices in retail establishments be located in a separate area or room of the establishment;
- Impose minimum health and safety standards for optical services and goods.
Explanation: This law would change the Oklahoma State Constitution to allow optometrists and opticians to practice in retail stores, like Walmart or Target.
Pros: This law would provide the convenience to patients to get an eye exam and purchase glasses in the same place. Supporters of this change claim that it gives patients more options and affordability when it comes to eye care. Supporters also say that this law will remove barriers to some companies, which will encourage competition between providers, thereby lowering the cost of eye care.
Cons: The Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians opposes this law. They argue, if this proposal passes, eye care will be managed by corporations such as Walmart and Target, and not by the doctors. This will place burdens on the optometrist and also may encourage a low standard of eye care.
State Question 794
State Question 794 would provide crime victims with specific rights, including the right to be “treated with fairness and respect for the victim’s safety, dignity and privacy;” to reasonable and timely notice of proceedings upon request; to be heard in any proceeding involving release, plea, sentencing, or parole of the accused; to reasonable protection; to reasonable notice of any release or escape of the accused upon request; to refuse an interview or other request made by the accused; to full and timely restitution; to proceedings “free from unreasonable delay and a prompt conclusion of the case;” and to confer with the attorney for the state upon request.
Explanation: This requires changes made to the Oklahoma State Constitution. This law will expand the rights of victims, survivors, and their families and guardians. The law will require victims and families to be notified that they have constitutionally protected rights. They would be notified at each stage of the criminal justice process: arrest, bonding, trial, and sentencing. They would also be notified of the defendant’s release or escape from custody and be consulted before a decision is made concerning a plea agreement, deferred prosecution agreement or diversion agreement.
Pros: With this new law in place, victims of rape and sexual assault and families of murder victims will be notified if the perpetrator is released on bail, and they will be protected from not talking to the perpetrator if they feel uncomfortable during the criminal justice process. Also, with these new rights, if the victim feels like their rights have been infringed upon, then they can petition the judge for a remedy.
Cons: This law may allow people who falsely claim victimhood to manipulate the rights to their advantage. There may be small costs for notifying victims of their perpetrator’s release.
State Question 797
May be on 2018 ballot as required number of signatures were compiled; however, signatures must be verified by the Oklahoma Secretary of State’s Office before going on the ballot – therefore, SQ 797 may not be on the ballot until the next state-wide election in 2020
An amendment to the Oklahoma constitution concerning adult use of marijuana, and, in connection therewith, providing for the regulation of marijuana; permitting a person twenty one years of age or older to consume or possess limited amounts of marijuana; providing for the licensing of cultivation facilities, product manufacturing facilities, testing facilities, and retail stores; permitting local governments to regulate or prohibit such facilities; requiring the general assemble to enact an excise tax to be levied upon wholesale sales of marijuana; requiring that the first $40 million in revenue raised annually by such tax be credited to the public school capital construction assistance fund; and requiring the general assemble to enact legislation governing the cultivation, processing, and sale of industrial hemp.
Explanation: This law would legalize recreational marijuana by people 21 and older. It would also provide licenses for the cultivation of marijuana.
Pros: The organization, Green the Vote, advocates for the recreational use of marijuana and the generation of money for the state. The campaign is not supported by any corporation, so it completely led by ordinary citizens. The licensing of marijuana would allow farmers to produce it to generate profit.
Cons: Opponents of the law cite the lack of scientific studies on the impact of marijuana. Also, there is not a strong system in place for the regulation of the marijuana in the state.
State Question 798
State Question 798 would amend the Oklahoma State Constitution to provide for the governor and lieutenant governor to be elected together on one ticket starting in 2026. As of 2018, Oklahoma voters cast a separate ballot for governor and lieutenant governor, who must conduct separate campaigns. Requiring the governor and lieutenant governor to run on the same ticket would prevent them from being from different parties.
Explanation: Currently, Oklahomans vote for governor and lieutenant governor in separate ballots. This law would change the Oklahoma State Constitution so that the governor and lieutenant governor candidates would run together on one ticket, so that voters will choose a governor and lieutenant governor together.
Pros: With the current procedure, the governor and lieutenant governor could be elected and be from different parties. If the officials are from different parties, the governor can weaken the power of the lieutenant governor. This law will prevent this erosion of checks and balances.
Cons: If the governor and lieutenant governor run separately and both elected are from different political parties, there may be a certain degree of checks and balances. If the governor weakens the powers of the lieutenant governor, then the latter may still be a strong vocal advocate.
State Question 800
Election date has not yet been set for SQ 800
State Question 800 would amend the Oklahoma State Constitution to establish a fund for the investment of 5 percent of the state’s oil and gas development tax revenue and for the annual transfer of 4 percent of the fund’s capital to the general fund.
Explanation: This law would change the Oklahoma State Constitution. It requires that each year, 5% of the money from the state oil and gas production tax be placed into a fund called the Oklahoma Vision Fund. Then, 4% of the money made from the fund will be used as money for the state. Representative John Michael Montgomery (R-Lawton) has stated, “The objective of these changes is to mitigate the ebb and flow of our oil and gas industry and the impact it has on our revenue.”
Pros: This law will increase the amount of money for the state, therefore, increasing the state budget. Money from other sources will also be placed into the Oklahoma Vision Fund. The State Treasurer will invest the money into stocks and similar securities as well to increase the amount of money available. This law does not increase taxes on the public nor the oil and gas industry, but uses a portion of the tax money for investment and money for the state.
Cons: The legislature passed House Bill 1401 (HB 1401) in order to provide a statutory framework to implement State Question 800. It was approved in the House by a vote of 55 to 0 with 45 excused and in the Senate by a vote of 41 to 0, with six excused. On May 11, 2018, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin vetoed HB 1401.
State Question 801
State Question 801 This measure would amend the Oklahoma State Constitution to allow certain local voter-approved property taxes—known as ad valorem levies—to be used to fund school district operations as well as construction. The State Constitution already allows for levies for construction.
Explanation: An ad valorem tax is a property tax paid yearly by property owners to the local government. Currently, the State Constitution allows certain local voter-approved property taxes to be used for school construction. With this new law, those taxes will be used for school operations as well as construction.
Pros: Property taxes are the single largest source of money for local government. In addition, Oklahoma’s per person property taxes are one of the lowest in the nation and less than half the national average. With tax money going toward operations, schools may receive money for utilities, teacher pay, textbooks, and new technology.
Cons: Funds reserved only for building and maintenance are beneficial to schools in times of state budget shortfalls, in which districts may be pressured to put off necessary maintenance in order to be competitive on teacher pay. This, in short, could pass the buck from the state legislature to fund education and teacher pay raises to individual school districts. Opponents also argue “operations” is too vague of a word, and that it must be specified on what is included in operations–utilities, textbooks, new technology, etc…