OK, LET’S TALK STATE QUESTIONS by Don Armes
I’ve been putting this off long enough. You, the voter are getting ready to experience something we call “Voter Fatigue”. You almost need to pack a lunch bucket to go vote in a few days. There are a slug of state questions that need our attention. I’m going to give you a run down of the list and how I see them. So let’s get to it.
This is a very dark but very important State Question. It is a result of the botched execution a year or so ago here in Oklahoma. Some people think the death penalty is awful no matter the method. We used to hang people and used the Electric chair. I saw that actual chair one time when I was in Leadership Oklahoma. It is an eerie thing to look at but it did the job. The problem now is that we are trying to be humane in how we perform an execution. The issue is the compounding of the lethal drugs used. It says, in essence, “OK, if you give us a bunch of trouble over the drug cocktail we can use other methods. We are a death penalty state and if we can’t inject then the death row criminals may have to “Ride the lightening”, to borrow a line from the movie The Green Mile. It is a tough question but I will be voting Yes. I’ve seen the families who have had children brutally murdered. Sorry, but I’ll take their side any day.
The right to farm. This is probably the most controversial and misunderstood question on the list. It’s really simple. Most of the money trying to convince you to vote no, and it’s in the millions, is coming from a group called HSUS, Humane Society of the United States, one of the most radicle animal rights groups in the world. This is an easy YES! It boils down to how much you want to pay for food. The people who raise your food need to not be over regulated by a bunch of people who don’t want you to eat meat. This is NOT about puppies, or water, or all the other stuff they are very successfully trying to confuse you with. This is about letting farmers and ranchers do their job of feeding you without stupid regulations imposed by misinformed groups who don’t have to raise livestock. OU fans, Barry Switzer is opposed only because he is in line with Drew Edmondson, former Attorney General for Oklahoma. A very liberal guy who is drawing a check for his work on this issue from the group I mentioned earlier. Barry was a great football coach but he is not a farmer. I will be voting YES without hesitation on this question.
This is the penny sales tax for education. This is the brain child of David Boren, the president of OU. He would love to just do this for higher Ed but he knew he couldn’t sell it that way. This is a very dangerous precedent to set. Our sales tax is already very high. It is no secret that teachers don’t make enough money, but this is dangerous because it can stifle retail sales across our state. Issues like this are always sold to you the voter by telling you “It’s for the kids”. Education is a very high cost item to our state budget but this measure can be a wreck because of all the other problems it causes. Many of you already order goods from the Internet and don’t pay sales tax on those items. If we drive more people to online sales it could cripple local business. King David will be getting a pretty good cut of this money for higher Ed and a portion will go to common Ed. Higher Ed has raised tuition every year for the last several years your local school cannot do that. It’s just a penny, and it’s for the kids! Be careful here. I will be Voting NO on this measure.
This question addresses the level of a felony. Part of the problem is the high cost of incarceration of felons. It takes the threshold from $500 to $1000. It is a real problem for the legislature to cover the cost of keeping people locked up. This one lowers the possession of limited quantities of drugs from a felony to a misdemeanor. Again, we lock up people for small time drug charges when rehab or other options could be more effective and not put young people in prison so other criminals can teach them how to be really bad. The reason you are voting on this as a state question is because if a legislator made this vote at the Capitol his opponent would beat him or her up in their next election as being “soft on crime”. So, guess what, you get to make the decision your self. I really struggle with this issue. I can see valid issues on both sides of this one. I’m leaning toward a yes vote but I’m not sure yet. Study this one.
This question is tied to the one before it. Former Speaker of the House Kris Steele worked very hard to bring this one to the forefront. If SQ 780 passes, this question will direct Office of Management and Enterprise Services to set up a fund with savings realized from the Smart Justice reform act aka, SQ 780 They will use actual data to calculate the amount of money that goes into the fund on a yearly basis. This money will be used to for rehab and mental health issues on a prorated basis using the population size of a county to determine how much they get from the fund to help with the cost of these services. If you vote yes on 780 you probable need to be yes on 781 so the money doesn’t just go into the black hole we call the state budget. I will vote YES on this question even though I’m not a big fan of the agency we created called OMES. I think we created a monster but it’s where we are and it at least specifies that the savings is used to help people with drug addiction issues.
This is a result of the Satin worshippers making the state remove the Ten Commandments monument from the Capitol grounds. It made us all mad. The way I read this one is that it gives the state a little more room without messing up the Constitution of the United States that prevents the government from endorsing a religion or becoming overly involved in religion. I think this is a YES vote for most of us who are Christians.
This one was a blood bath at the Capitol last session. This measure allows wine and alcohol sales in grocery stores. The concession for the liquor store owners is that they can sell high point beer that is already refrigerated. It also allows Oklahoma winery’s to ship product direct to their customers who visit. Every body got something in this one. My daughter works in the wine business in the Willamette Valley of Oregon and thinks this is terrible because Wal Mart will only carry the wine that sells in high volume and the really high quality product will be left to the liquor stores, if they can stay in business. One thought on this,, One of the only truly mom and pop business left in Oklahoma are the liquor stores. This changes the entire game. I tend to lean NO on this question but I think Oklahoma City and Tulsa will pass it no matter what we think .
There is a lot here, I hope this is helpful. I also hope that you will all try to read them and make informed votes. There is a lot more than Trump and Hilliary on this ballot.