2006 State Questions

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This morning on KFAQ, in between reports about the host's gastrointestinal health, Sen. Randy Brogdon (a man with the patience of Job) provided an informative overview of the four legislative referenda on next Tuesday's ballot. (Here is a PDF with the language you will see on the ballot.)

My brief take on each, plus a link to a Rich Text Format (Microsoft Word compatible) version of the constitutional amendments that would be enacted if the question is passed:

SQ 724: Would restrict state pay to incarcerated or convicted legislators. (SJR 5, passed in 2005.) Adds the underlined text below to Article V, Section 21, of the Oklahoma Constitution:

Members of the Legislature shall receive such compensation as shall be fixed by the Board on Legislative Compensation; provided, any member of the Legislature who is incarcerated for any period of time during his or her term of office shall not receive any compensation from the state or be eligible to participate in any compensation programs funded in whole or in part with state revenues during the period of such incarceration. In the event a member of the Legislature is incarcerated due to being charged with a criminal offense and is subsequently acquitted or the charges are dismissed, any compensation withheld from such member shall be paid to such member.

I'll be voting FOR this question, although it should be broadened to include any legislative compensation paid to former members of the legislature (e.g., Gene Stipe).

SQ 725: This would allow the Governor, Speaker of the House, and President Pro Tempore of the Senate to plunder the Constitutional Reserve ("Rainy Day") Fund to bail out inefficient but politically influential industries. (SB 755, passed in 2005.) Despite the safeguards, this is bad business. The purpose of the rainy day fund is to pay for state services when the economy tanks and revenues drop. (Remember the mid-'80s? 2002?) I'd reproduce the full text, but it's two pages long, further beefing up what was once the World's Longest Constitution. Polls are showing this thing passing 60-40. I'm hoping Oklahomans will wise up and vote AGAINST SQ725.

SQ 733: Allows package stores to sell liquor on election day. (HJR 1066, passed in 2006.) The Constitution still bans package liquor sales on Sundays, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Regardless of how you feel about alcohol as a beverage, it's hardly fair to allow bars and restaurants to serve alcoholic drinks while package stores can't sell alcohol for consumption at home. Also, a politically-active friend reminds me that the current law means you can't stock up for election night watch parties (champagne for the victors, champipple for the vanquished). Vote FOR SQ 733.

SQ 734: Provides for the administration of a freeport exemption from personal property tax for inventory that stays in the state for less than 90 days. (SJR 37.) I heard a news story this week about Amazon.com looking for workers for their Coffeyville, Kansas, distribution center -- paying $10/hour for locals, $12/hour for those willing to ride a company bus from Tulsa. I imagine this sort of exemption would make a big difference to a company like Amazon, and I wonder if that's why they're located just north of the Oklahoma border, instead of in Oklahoma. As I read it, the exemption is already authorized in the Constitution, and this amendment only deals with authorizing the Legislature to legislate how the exemption is to be applied for:

The Legislature shall enact laws governing the procedures for making application to the county assessor for purposes of the exemption authorized by this section, including the time as of which the application must be filed and information to be included with the application.

This is a housekeeping amendment and deserves a vote FOR.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on November 1, 2006 9:29 PM.

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