Here is a breakdown of the 6 Oklahoma State Questions that will appear on the November 6th ballot
STATE QUESTION NO. 758
This measure amends the State Constitution. 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% of fair cash value in any taxable year.
The measure changes the cap on increases to 3% for some property. The 3% cap would apply to homestead exempted property. The cap would also apply to agricultural land.
The measure also removes obsolete language.
*Summary and pros and cons came from the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce.
Summary: If passed, this ballot measure would limit the amount that county assessors could only increase the ad valorem tax on homestead or agriculture exempted property by 3% (or the rate of inflation, whichever is less) rather than the current 5%.
Pros: County assessor are raising valuations without regard to the actual market value of the home. In many cases, the county assessors seem to have utilizes the 5% as an automatic increase. Lowering the maximum annual increase will better control property taxes.
Cons: Counties and school districts depend primarily on property tax revenue for their operating budgets. In these tough times, setting an arbitrary limit on annual assessment valuations is harmful. assessed on a free market basis and not by arbitrary restrictions. Local opponents say to consider the cost of the exemption to the schools. Ad valorem taxes also help fund county offices such as the court house and sheriff's office. The change would restrain revenue growth to property tax-funded local governments, including schools. In fiscal year 2014, the impact would be $6.56 million, according to an Oklahoma Tax Commission estimate. Some think that the measure could actually result in higher property tax bills for many people because millage rates might have to be adjusted to cover fixed costs such as a bond issue.
A Yes Vote Means: You believe there should be a cap on the tax assessed for property that meets the homestead exemption (your primary residence) or is used as agricultural land.
A No Vote Means: You believe that taxes on the above mentioned types of property should not be forever limited.
STATE QUESTION NO. 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 affirmative action programs. Affirmative action programs give preferred treatment based on race, color or gender. They also give preferred treatment based on ethnicity or national origin. Discrimination on these bases is also not permitted.
The measure permits affirmative action in three instances. 1. When gender is a bonafide qualification, 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 agencies. It applies to counties, cities and towns. It applies to school districts. It applies to other State subdivisions.
The measure applies only to actions taken after its approval by the people.
Summary: An organization based in Sacramento called the American Civil Rights Institute has been encouraging the passage of this language in several other states. The ballot measure asks voters if the Oklahoma government should be allowed to continue to grant preferential treatment to, or discriminate against, any group or individual on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in 3 specific areas: public employment, public education, or public contracting. Similar measures have passed in California, Washington, Michigan, Nebraska and Arizona. Any programs that are necessary to receive federal funds would be preserved.
Pros: Proponents of this measure believe that affirmative action was never meant to be a permanent policy and that it has become distorted. They believe that affirmative action has become the equivalent to a quota system and peoples should only be hired based on their qualifications. The business aspect of this measure comes into play when dealing with "bid preferences," such as are done in the city of Tulsa. This drives up the cost of government and who can apply and ultimately win public projects.
Cons: This could have an adverse effect on the percentage of minorities that would receive a college education. According to one study, eliminating affirmative action would drop admissions of African- American and Hispanic candidates by nearly 2/3rds. With the Hispanic population being the fastest growing segment of the population, it behooves the entire state to ensure a well educated population.
A Yes Vote Means: You believe there is a problem with people of a different race, color, gender, ethnicity or national origin receiving preferential treatment in the areas of employment, education and contracting.
A No Vote Means: You believe people of a different race, color, gender and ethnicity can receive occasional preferential treatment in the areas of employment, education and contracting.
STATE QUESTION NO. 762
This measure amends Section 10 of Article 6 of the Oklahoma Constitution. It changes current law, decreasing the power and authority of the Governor by removing the Governor from the parole process for persons convicted of certain offenses defined as nonviolent 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 nonviolent offenses.
The Legislature defines what offenses are nonviolent 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 eighty-five percent of their sentence prior to being considered for parole and those designated by the Legislature as exceptions to nonviolent offenses. For those offenses for which persons are required to serve a minimum mandatory period of confinement prior to being eligible to be considered for parole, the Pardon and Parole Board may not recommend parole until that period of confinement has been served.
Summary: This ballot measure would amend the state Constitution to give the Pardon and Parole Board the power to review and decide parole requests for non-violent offenders. Violent crimes would still be reviewed by the Governor. This proposal was one of the recommendations from a 2007 performance audit of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections conducted by MGT of American, Inc.
Pros: Oklahoma is the only state in which the governor is involved in the parole process for non-violent offenders. Removing the governor from the parole process for non-violent offenders could save the state more than $40 million in the next 10 years.
Cons: Opponents of this measure say it is important to the voters that the person ultimately making this decision be someone who answers directly to the voters.
A Yes Vote Means: You believe that the Governor should be removed from the Pardon and Parole board as it pertains to people convicted of nonviolent crimes. But the Board still recommends to the Governor, for parole, in cases where persons convicted of the types of crimes where 85% of their sentence must be served, but only after that time has been served.
A No Vote Means: The Pardon and Parole process should continue as is.
STATE QUESTION NO. 764
This measure amends the Oklahoma 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 resource and sewage 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 or repayment. The bonds would be general obligation bonds. Not more than Three Hundred Million Dollars 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 Legislature would provide for how the fund is administered.
Summary: The constitutional amendment creates a reserve fund to leverage available funding for water resource and sewage treatment financial assistance programs for municipalities, political subdivisons and other public entities in Oklahoma. The recent update of the Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan estimates that over the next fifty years the need for maintaining, replacing and expanding drinking water and wastewater infrastructure will total over 80 billion dollars. To begin to address these needs, the amendment creates the Water Infrastructure Credit Enhancement Reserve Fund and authorizes the Oklahoma Water Resources Board to issue bonds for water infrastructure projects after other funding sources are exhausted, subject to legislative appropriation and authority.
Pros: The Oklahoma Water Resources Board's current drinking water and water waste loan program has saved Oklahoma communities and the state over $900 million since 1985, while maintaining over $2.5 billion in project financing. Passage of this bill helps protect one our state's most precious natural resources - water. With Oklahoma aging infrastructure and growing demands, the creation pd the Water Infrastructure Credit Enhancement Reserve Fund will ensure the ability of the state to assist infrastructure. The reserve fund could only be used after other revenue sources are utilized for repayment of water infrastructure loans.
Cons: Some argue that the legislature should directly fund these needs and new bonds should not be issued for necessary infrastructure that is part of core government services. Though some are concerned that managing appropriations in this manner will limit appropriations to other core government needs. Some argue that rural water districts DO NOT receive adequate support from the infrastructure loan program. Though a quick review of the systems funded over the years make it clear there is not an unfair distribution. On a local level, some feel that the funding will be used to build a pipeline to transfer water from this area to Oklahoma City.
A Yes Vote Means: If, for some reason, a local entity (city or town) failed to meet the obligations of loans it had taken through the State Water Resources Board for water and sewage treatment programs, then bonds could be issued to cover the unmet costs only.
A No Vote Means: No bonds could be issued for water and sewage program loan defaults.
STATE QUESTION NO. 765
The measure amends the Oklahoma Constitution. It abolishes the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, the Oklahoma Commission of Human Services and the position of Director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. These entities were created under different 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 Constitution 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 initiative petition retain the power to adopt legislation for these purposes.
The measure adds a provision to the Constitution authorizing the Legislature to create a department or departments to administer and carry out laws to provide for the care of the aged and the needy. The measure also authorizes the Legislature to enact laws requiring the newly-created department or departments to perform other duties.
Summary: The constitutional amendment abolishes the Department of Public Welfare, the Oklahoma Public Welfare Commission, and the Director of Public Welfare, currently known as the Department of Human Services, the Commission for Human Services, and the Director of Human Services, respectively. The Commission has been a constitutionally-mandated, nine-member group of appointed volunteers appointed by the Governor that has overseen the operations of DHS since 1936. The proposal authorizes the Legislature, and as allowed by law, the people via initiative petition, to enact legislation for the creation of a department(s) for the care and relief of the indigent, elderly, children, physical or otherwise disabled persons who are unable to provide or care for themselves. This proposal is a recommendation of the Oklahoma House of Representatives DHS Working Group that has engaged in outreach and study of DHS since October 2011. Companion legislation (HB 3137) requires the governor to appoint an agency director, with consent of the Senate, if the state question passes.
Pros: advocates say the change will give the State legislative greater oversight of DHS and opportunity for much needed, overdue reform. Many legislators advocated for the change because the agency has been isolated from any accountability.
Cons: Opponents say this reform is a huge change to an important agency. The new structure goes against Oklahoma populist tradition by giving the governor more power and would politicize the agency directors job.
A Yes Vote Means: Control of Oklahoma Welfare issues will no longer fall under an appointed Board. The Legislature will create a department and laws that will deal with the care of the aged and needy.
A No Vote Means: Oklahoma Welfare will continue as it has been operating.
STATE QUESTION NO. 766
This measure amends Section 6A of Article 10 of the Oklahoma Constitution. At present that section exempts some intangible personal property from ad valorem property taxation. This measure would exempt all intangible personal property from ad valorem property taxation.
An ad valorem property tax is a tax imposed upon the value of property.
Intangible Personal Property is property whose value is not derived from its physical attributes, but rather from what it represents or evidences.
Intangible Personal Property which is still currently taxed but would not be taxed if the measure is adopted, includes items such as:
patents, inventions, formulas, designs, and trade secrets;
licenses, franchise, and contracts;
land leases, mineral interests, and insurance policies;
custom computer software; and
trademarks, trade names and brand names.
If adopted, the measure would apply to property taxation starting with the tax year that begins on January 1, 2013.
Summary: In 2009, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that Oklahoma families and businesses should pay new taxes on intangible property, despite the fact that these taxes have never been assessed in state history. This measure overturns the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling by amending the Oklahoma Constitution to exempt all intangible personal property from ad valorem tax.
Pro: Virtually every Oklahoma family or business owns intangible property. Exempting intangible property will permanently protect families and small businesses from new taxes on items like pensions, retirement benefits, professional licenses, apartment leases, insurance policies and employee contracts. Since most of DO NOT tax this type of property passing will keep Oklahoma jobs and businesses on an even playing field with other states.
Cons: Many opponents want to see hundreds of millions of dollars in new taxes that will go local jurisdictions. The Oklahoma Tax Commission has estimated that exempting intangible property may have an impact on approximately $50 million. but this number has been heavily disputed because of intangible property cannot be seen or touched and is very difficult to quantify.
A Yes Vote Means: You believe the above mentioned items should never be taxed.
A No Vote Means: The above mentioned items should continue to be taxed.