Chickashanews.com

Opinion

October 25, 2012

Dorman sets out to explain ballot issues to Oklahoma voters

GRADY COUNTY — Oklahomans will see six state questions on the back of their ballot this year. All six of these questions change the Oklahoma Constitution and were passed by the legislature. The Governor does not sign legislation sending ballot questions to a vote as a majority vote by the people is what ratifies this to become the law. I will spend the next two weeks in my column describing each, along with a brief history on how each ended up on the ballot. You will notice that there are often gaps between the numbers on the questions and that is because people submitted the intent to file a petition for a potential state question, but not enough signatures were collected to get this proposal on the ballot.

     State Question 758 would reduce the property tax cap of 5% to now be 3% on what the county assessor can increase the value of your personal or agricultural property. The original cap of 5% was passed by the people several years ago to keep assessment rates low. This further reduction was brought to the legislature by several legislators over the years, but finally passed to allow the people to decide if they would like a lower cap. Schools, county government, libraries and ambulance services rely on ad valorem, or property, taxes to fund their services. This cap would reduce the potential revenue going to these services to operate in each district or community. This would specifically affect areas with growth where property valuations are higher, and could potentially result in forced increases by the courts to cover bond payments should an entity default because of not enough revenue resulting from property tax collections.

     State Question 759 removes affirmative action programs from the Oklahoma Constitution and Statutes. The measure deals with three areas of government action, being employment, education and contracting. Affirmative action programs prevent discrimination based on race, color or gender, along with ethnicity or national origin.

This measure would still permit affirmative action in four instances: when gender is a bonafide qualification, it is allowed; Existing court orders and consent decrees that require preferred treatment will continue and can be followed; Affirmative action is allowed when needed to keep or obtain federal funds; and affirmative action programs will remain in place for preferential treatment in hiring veterans. The Constitutional change would only apply to the State and its agencies, to counties, cities and towns, school districts and other State subdivisions.

     State Question 762 amends Section 10 of Article 6 of the Oklahoma Constitution by removing the Governor from the parole process for persons convicted of nonviolent offenses.  The Pardon and Parole Board, in place of the Governor, would be authorized to grant parole to persons convicted of nonviolent offenses.  The Governor would continue to be required to grant parole for persons convicted of eighty-five percent crimes and crimes which are considered violent 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. Oklahoma is the only state in the nation where the Governor still is involved in approving the parole of all offenders.

     I was honored to place first at the Apache Chamber chili cook-off and second in the Alex Fall Festival with my chili.  I was unable to attend, but I was told the Walk a Mile in My Shoes event in Chickasha was huge success on Saturday.  I donated a suitcase as this program helps collect these items for young Oklahomans in foster care to provide them something in which to pack their belongings.  Often times, we hear stories about kids taken away in the middle of the night with all their things thrown in trash bags.  This effort provides some dignity to the students and I applaud the effort to help these children.  Many thanks to those who helped and you can still make a donation at the new foster care ministry which will be started soon for Southwest Oklahoma. 

     It is an honor to represent your views at the State Capitol. If you wish to contact me to discuss one of these or another issue, I can be reached at my office in Oklahoma City toll-free at 1-800-522-8502, or directly at 1-405-557-7305. My email address is joedorman@okhouse.gov at work. My mailing address is PO Box 559, Rush Springs, OK 73082 and my website is www.joedorman.com on the Internet. Thank you for taking the time to read this column and I look forward to seeing you soon.Oklahomans will see six state questions on the back of their ballot this year. All six of these questions change the Oklahoma Constitution and were passed by the legislature. The Governor does not sign legislation sending ballot questions to a vote as a majority vote by the people is what ratifies this to become the law. I will spend the next two weeks in my column describing each, along with a brief history on how each ended up on the ballot. You will notice that there are often gaps between the numbers on the questions and that is because people submitted the intent to file a petition for a potential state question, but not enough signatures were collected to get this proposal on the ballot.

     State Question 758 would reduce the property tax cap of 5% to now be 3% on what the county assessor can increase the value of your personal or agricultural property. The original cap of 5% was passed by the people several years ago to keep assessment rates low. This further reduction was brought to the legislature by several legislators over the years, but finally passed to allow the people to decide if they would like a lower cap. Schools, county government, libraries and ambulance services rely on ad valorem, or property, taxes to fund their services. This cap would reduce the potential revenue going to these services to operate in each district or community. This would specifically affect areas with growth where property valuations are higher, and could potentially result in forced increases by the courts to cover bond payments should an entity default because of not enough revenue resulting from property tax collections.

     State Question 759 removes affirmative action programs from the Oklahoma Constitution and Statutes. The measure deals with three areas of government action, being employment, education and contracting. Affirmative action programs prevent discrimination based on race, color or gender, along with ethnicity or national origin. This measure would still permit affirmative action in four instances: when gender is a bonafide qualification, it is allowed; Existing court orders and consent decrees that require preferred treatment will continue and can be followed; Affirmative action is allowed when needed to keep or obtain federal funds; and affirmative action programs will remain in place for preferential treatment in hiring veterans. The Constitutional change would only apply to the State and its agencies, to counties, cities and towns, school districts and other State subdivisions.

     State Question 762 amends Section 10 of Article 6 of the Oklahoma Constitution by removing the Governor from the parole process for persons convicted of nonviolent offenses.  The Pardon and Parole Board, in place of the Governor, would be authorized to grant parole to persons convicted of nonviolent offenses.  The Governor would continue to be required to grant parole for persons convicted of eighty-five percent crimes and crimes which are considered violent 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. Oklahoma is the only state in the nation where the Governor still is involved in approving the parole of all offenders.

     I was honored to place first at the Apache Chamber chili cook-off and second in the Alex Fall Festival with my chili.  I was unable to attend, but I was told the Walk a Mile in My Shoes event in Chickasha was huge success on Saturday.  I donated a suitcase as this program helps collect these items for young Oklahomans in foster care to provide them something in which to pack their belongings.  Often times, we hear stories about kids taken away in the middle of the night with all their things thrown in trash bags.  This effort provides some dignity to the students and I applaud the effort to help these children.  Many thanks to those who helped and you can still make a donation at the new foster care ministry which will be started soon for Southwest Oklahoma.

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