This time around, as many proposals missed the ballot as actually get to appear on it. The last number we saw was SQ 766, back in 2012, so we'll start here with SQ 767 or, rather, we would start with 767, but it was one of those misses I was talking about, so we'll go straight to the first number that's truly ballot-bound.

SQ 769:

This measure amends Section 12 of Article 2 of the Oklahoma Constitution. That Section currently imposes limits on an individual simultaneously holding certain government offices. The amendment would permit those serving in state offices of trust or profit to also hold certain military positions. Holders of an Oklahoma office of trust or profit who currently can not simultaneously hold certain military positions, include:

Legislators; State Judges; District Attorneys; Statewide elected officials, such as the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General and Treasurer; Members of State Boards, Agencies and Commissions, and Many County Officers.

The measure creates a state constitutional right permitting holders of Oklahoma offices of trust or profit to also serve and be called to active duty or active service in the following military positions:

An Officer or Enlisted Member of

The National Guard, The National Guard Reserve, The Oklahoma State Guard, or Any other active militia or military force organized under State law;

An Officer of the Officers Reserve Corps of the United States or An Enlisted Member of the Organized Reserves of the United States.

The Measure empowers the Legislature to enact laws to implement the amended Section.

I admit that the phrase "creates a state constitutional right" makes me antsy, but that may not matter so much. The original version of this, claimed Attorney General Scott Pruitt, was fuzzy: "It does not explain," said Pruitt, "by example or otherwise, what an 'office of trust or profit' is." The AG sent it back, and this is the wording he ultimately approved. As I am not persuaded that there's any advantage to keeping a wall between the military and elected officials, I will be voting Yes on 769.

SQ 770:

This measure amends the Oklahoma Constitution. It amends Section 8E of Article 10. This section provides a homestead exemption to certain qualifying disabled veterans. It also provides a homestead exemption to the surviving spouse of qualifying disabled veterans. This measure would allow either the veteran or his or her surviving spouse to sell the homestead but acquire another homestead property in the same calendar year. The exemption would apply to the newly acquired homestead property to the same extent as the original exemption for the homestead property that was sold.

SQ 771:

This measure amends the Oklahoma Constitution. It would add a new Section 8F to Article 10. It would create a homestead exemption for the surviving spouse of military personnel who die in the line of duty. The United States Department of Defense or the applicable branch of the United States military would make the determination regarding whether the person engaged in military service died while in the line of duty. It would provide the surviving spouse of such person with a one hundred percent (100%) exemption for the fair cash value of the homestead until the surviving spouse remarried. This measure would allow the surviving spouse to sell the homestead, but acquire another homestead property in the same calendar year. The exemption would apply to the newly acquired homestead property to the same extent as the original exemption for the homestead property that was sold. The exemption would apply beginning in calendar year 2015. The exemption would also apply for the 2014 calendar year if the surviving spouse meets applicable requirements.

If these two look similar, it's because they were originally sent up from the Legislature as a single proposition; the Secretary of State separated them, lest they be subsequently challenged under the state's one-subject-per-bill statute, which has tripped up many a referendum in the 107 years since statehood. I have always supported the various extensions of the homestead exemption, which exempts the first $1000 (or more) of the assessed value of real property under certain conditions. (Actually living on the property is the basic exemption, which is the only one for which I qualify; it saves me roughly $115 on the annual tax bill.) I will vote Yes on 770 and on 771.

Missing numbers:

SQ 767: "Allow state bond money to pay for shelters and secure areas in schools." An initiative filed by Kathryn Turner of Blanchard, this turned out to be controversial when the Attorney General sent back the original ballot title, not so much because proponents objected to the revisions, but because the timing of the return, according to a lawsuit filed against the AG, jeopardized the time frame in which signatures could be collected in support of the measure. The state Supreme Court sided with the AG, and the official status of SQ 767 is "Time to file signatures has expired."

SQ 768: "Allows for the classification of marijuana as a herbal drug regulated by the OK State Dept of Health and permits the use of marijuana, under a physician's guidance, for certain medical conditions including cancer, HIV, AIDS, hepatitis C, MS, and other conditions." Petitions were circulated; 75,384 signatures were obtained, falling short of the 115,216 required. (The number required is based on the number of votes cast for Governor last time out, in this case 2010.) A new, broader petition, dubbed by proponents the Marijuana Legalization Act, has been prepared, and is in circulation. Should enough signatures be obtained, the measure will appear on the ballot in 2016 as SQ 773.

SQ 772: Asking that House Enrolled Bill SB 1456 be submitted for referendum. The pertinent paragraph: "No retail electric supplier shall increase rates charged or enforce a surcharge above that required to recover the full costs necessary to serve customers who install distributed generation on the customer side of the meter after the effective date of this act." Which, in essence, insures that some sort of charge will be imposed on those who install solar or cogeneration facilities. I've already discussed that bill here. Apart from the assignment of a ballot title, no action has been taken yet.

Short version: 3 Yes, 0 No.

Previous State Question coverage: 2012, 2010, 2008, 2006, 2004, and 2002.

The Vent

  1 October 2014

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 Copyright © 2014 by Charles G. Hill