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Tuesday, 13 September 2016 14:12

Republicans to hear the Pro's of State Questions Tuesday Sept. 13

The Republican Party will meet Tuesday Sept. 13 with Special speakers who will discuss the "Yes" side of State Questions 777 - Right to Farm and Stacy Bullard with OEA - Oklahoma Education Association speaking for State Questions 779 - the 1% (1 cent) sales tax for education. (See all listed below)

Meeting is located in the Okmulgee Conference Room of the OSUIT Student Union located at 1801 E. 4th Street in Okmulgee. The general meeting is open to the public.  As a reminder, the county business meeting begins at 6:30 in the same room.

State Questions – November 8 General Election

Information provided by Oklahoma Council Of Public Affairs

SQ 776 – Death Penalty

            This measure adds a new section to the Oklahoma Constitution. It adds Section 9A of Article 2. It states that all death penalty statutes are in effect. It states that methods of execution can be changed. It states that the death penalty is not cruel and unusual punishment.

A “Yes” Vote:

  • Provides Constitutional reasoning for the death penalty.
  • States that methods for execution can be changed.
  • It would prevent the death penalty from being interpreted as “the infliction of cruel or unusual punishments.”

A “No” Vote:

  • Opponents want to abolish the death penalty and feel that Oklahoma’s death penalty is unconstitutional.
  • Opponents calling all forms of execution cruel and unusual punishment.

SQ 777 – Agriculture

            “To protect agriculture as a vital sector of Oklahoma’s economy, which provides food, energy, health benefits, and security and is the foundation and stabilizing force of Oklahoma’s economy, the rights of farmers and ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state. The Legislature shall pass no law which abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to employ agricultural technology and livestock production and ranching practices without a compelling state interest.”

A “Yes” Vote:

  • Amends the constitution to guarantee the right to certain farming and ranching practices.
  • Forbids the Legislature from passing laws that restrict farmers and ranchers from certain practices without persuasive state interests.

A “No” Vote:

  • Takes away the power of the Legislature and Municipal governments to regulate agricultural practices.
  • Opponents feel it protects large corporate farming and ranching interests and empowers large agribusinesses.

SQ 779 – Education Taxes

            This measure adds a new Article to the Oklahoma Constitution. The article creates a limited purpose fund to increase funding for public education. It increases State sales tax by one cent per dollar to provide revenue for the fund. The revenue to be used for public education shall be allocated: 69.50% for common school districts, 19.25% for the institutions under the authority of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, 3.25% for the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, and 8% for the State Department of Education. It requires teach salary increases funded by this measure raise teacher salaries by at least $5,000 over the salaries paid in the year prior to adoption of this measure. It requires that monies from the fund no supplant or replace other educational funding. If the Oklahoma Board of Equalization determines funding has been replaced, the Legislature may not make any appropriations until the amount of replaced funding is returned to the fund. This article takes effect on July 1 after its passage.

A “Yes” Vote:

  • Increases taxes by 1%, making Oklahoma the highest sales tax in the nation.
  • Funds public education, higher education and career tech.
  • Gives teachers a $5000 pay raise in 2017.

A “No” Vote:

  • A “no” vote is a vote against raising taxes.
  • Teacher pay raise is possible without raising taxes.
  • It would negatively impact economic development and threaten cities and towns that rely solely on sales tax revenues to fund public safety and other operations.

SQ 780 & 781 – Criminal Justice

780 – This measure amends statues to reform criminal sentences for certain property and drug offenses. It makes certain property offenses misdemeanors. It makes simple drug possession a misdemeanor. Property offenses where the value of the property is one thousand dollars or more remain felonies, and the distribution, possession with intent to distribute, transportation with intent to distribute, manufacture, or trafficking or drugs remain felonies.

780 – This measure creates the County Community Safe Investment Fund. The fund consists of costs savings by reclassifying as misdemeanors certain property crimes and drug possession. The funds must be distributed to counties for the purpose of funding rehabilitative programs, such as mental health and substance abuse treatment programs. This measure only becomes effective if voters approve State Question 780.

A “Yes” Vote:

  • Reclassifies certain minor offenses from felonies to misdemeanor.
  • Reduces prison over-crowding.
  • Saves tax payers nearly $500 millon/year in correction spending.

A “No” Vote:

Ballot’s wording has been challenged by the Attorney General.

Simple drug possession will always remain a misdemeanor.

Opponents feel that more access to drug court is needed.

SQ 790 – Religion

            This measure repeals Section 5 of Article 2 of the Oklahoma Constitution. This section prohibits the use of public monies or property for sectarian or religious purposes.

“No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, donated, or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion, or for the use, benefit, or support of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or dignitary, or sectarian institution as such.”

 A “Yes” Vote:

  • This constitutional amendment repeals Section 5 of Article 2 of the Oklahoma Constitution.
  • Approving this measure allows public money to be spent for religious purposes.
  • Allow the Ten Commandments monument to return to the Capitol grounds.

A “No” Vote:

  • A “no” vote is against allowing public money to be spent for religious purposes.
  • A “no” vote will keep the Ten Commandments off State Capitol grounds.

SQ 792 – Alcohol

            This measure enacts Article 28A and repeals Article 28 of the Oklahoma Constitution. Beverages that contain alcohol are governed ty the new Article and other laws. It requires the Legislature to enact laws to regulate alcoholic beverages. Common ownership between tiers of the alcoholic beverage business is prohibited with some exceptions. Some restrictions apply to manufacturers, brewers, winemakers, and wholesalers. Direct shipments to consumers are prohibited unless direct shipments of wine are authorized by law, subject to limitations. Licenses to sell wine, beer and spirits at retail locations are required. The Legislature could prescribe other licenses. Sales of wine and beer are permitted at certain licensed retail locations. Licensees may sell refrigerated or non-refrigerated products, and Retail Spirits Licensees may sell products other than alcoholic beverages in a limited amount. Certain persons are prohibited from being licensed. Certain acts are made unlawful. The Legislature could by law, designate days and hours during which alcoholic beverages could be sold, and impose taxes on sales. Certain restrictions relating to the involvement of the state and political subdivisions and public employees are specified. Municipalities could also levy an occupation tax. The amendment will be effective October 1, 2018, with one provision becoming effective upon passage.

A “Yes” Vote:

  • Allows grocery stores and convenience stores to sell full-strength beer and wine seven days a week.
  • Licensees may sell refrigerated or non-refrigerated products.

A “No” Vote:

  • Opponents feel it’s unconstitutional because it has different laws for grocery stores and convenience stores.
  • Liquor stores are limited to 2 locations and must be residents of Oklahoma for 5 years.