Oklahoma Election 2014: FOR State Questions 769, 770, 771

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Three questions will be on every ballot in Oklahoma next Tuesday. Two have to do with property taxes; one has to do with whether state officials may also serve in the National Guard and Reserves. None of these questions are controversial, but because they involve amendments to the State Constitution, they must be put to the voters for approval. The Oklahoma Secretary of State is the official keeper of information state questions; links below will take you to the Secretary of State's site.

This year's state questions are all legislative referenda. Initiative petitions relating to school storm shelters, marijuana, and fees for connection to the electric utility grid were filed, but petition signatures were filed only for SQ 768, the medical marijuana petition. 155,216 signatures were required (15% of the highest number of votes cast for any office in the previous Oklahoma general election, in 2010), but only 75,384 were submitted and certified.

State Rep. Jason Murphey says that this is the "easiest year to write about these questions because there are only three on the ballot, and they are not controversial." He supported all three proposals.

SQ 769 went through the legislature as Senate Joint Resolution 33, passing the House 82-5 and the Senate 44-0. If SQ 769 is approved, the underlined text will be added to Article II, Section 12 of the Oklahoma Constitution:

Section 12. No member of Congress from this State, or person holding any office of trust or profit under the laws of any other State, or of the United States, shall hold any office of trust or profit under the laws of this State; provided, neither the provisions of this section nor any other provision of this Constitution or state law shall be construed to prohibit the following officeholders from holding at the same time any other office of trust or profit:

1. Officers and enlisted members of the National Guard;

2. Officers and enlisted members of the National Guard Reserve;

3. Officers of the Officers Reserve Corps of the United States;

4. Enlisted members of the Organized Reserves of the United States; and

5. Officers and enlisted members of the Oklahoma State Guard and any other active militia or military force organized under state law.

The Legislature shall have the power to enact laws to further implement the provisions of this section.

The intent is to eliminate any question as to whether guard and reserve troops may also serve in public office in Oklahoma.

SQ 770 went through the legislature as HB2621, passing both houses unanimously. If SQ 770 is approved, a new paragraph will be added to Article X, Section 8E, which provides a full homestead exemption for service-disabled veterans and their surviving spouses:

C. If a homestead otherwise eligible for the exemption authorized by this section is transferred on or after January 1 of a calendar year, another homestead property acquired by the qualifying head of household or by the surviving spouse of such qualifying head of household shall be exempt to the same extent as the homestead property previously owned by such person or persons for the year during which the new homestead is acquired and, subject to the requirements of this section, for each year thereafter.

Rep. Murphey writes:

Oklahoma's Constitution currently allows disabled veterans to receive an exemption from most property taxes. State Question 770 allows disabled veterans to sell their home and transfer the exemption to their new home during the same calendar year with no drop off in the exemption.

SQ 771 went through the legislature in the same bill, HB2621. It adds Section 8F to Article X, providing the same sort of homestead exemption to the surviving spouses of troops killed in the line of duty:

Section 8F. A. Despite any provision to the contrary, and except as otherwise provided by subsection D of this section, beginning January 1, 2015, the surviving spouse of the head of household who is determined by the United States Department of Defense or any branch of the United States military to have died while in the line of duty shall be entitled to claim an exemption for the full amount of the fair cash value of the homestead until such surviving spouse remarries.

B. In order to be eligible for the exemption authorized by this section, the surviving spouse shall be required to prove residency within the State of Oklahoma and must have previously qualified for the homestead exemption authorized by law or be eligible for the homestead exemption pursuant to law.

C. If a homestead otherwise eligible for the exemption authorized by this section is transferred on or after January 1 of a calendar year, another homestead property acquired by the surviving spouse shall be exempt to the same extent as the homestead property previously owned by such person for the year during which the new homestead is acquired and, subject to the requirements of this section, for each year thereafter.

D. The provisions of this section shall be applicable for the 2014 calendar year with respect to an existing homestead property owned by the surviving spouse of a person previously determined to have died while in the line of duty by the United States Department of Defense or applicable branch of the United States military.

I will vote FOR all three state questions.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 28, 2014 8:13 PM.

William Kellough's controversial cases was the previous entry in this blog.

Oklahoma Election 2014: judicial retention ballot is the next entry in this blog.

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