Voters to decide six amendments to Oklahoma constitution on November 6th

When you vote on November 6th, you’ll find more than just the names of candidates on the ballot.

There are also six amendments to the state constitution to consider.

This week, KRMG is looking at what each of those ‘state questions’ proposes.

Our guide is Heather Hope-Hernandez of the Tulsa Chapter of the League of Women Voters.

We begin with two questions which both deal with capping or eliminating certain kinds of property tax.

State Questions 758 and 766: Limitations on property taxes

State Question 758 would limit how much property taxes can be raised in any given year.

"Right now," says Hope-Hernandez, "increases are limited to 5% of fair cash value in  any taxable year. (SQ 758) will cap the increase to 3% for some property."

Specifically, homestead-exempted property and agricultural land.

Hope-Hernandez tells KRMG the League of Women Voters hasn‘t taken a position for or against SQ 758.

"What we are saying is that people need to understand that our property taxes generally go to support common education and that's something to think about when they go to the polls."

State Question 766 also deals with property taxes.

It would ban taxes on so-called intangible property, things like patents, inventions, trade secrets, brand names and custom computer software.

Read more about State Question 758 and State Question 766 on Ballotpedia.org.

State Question 759: Banning Affirmative Action

SQ 759 would ban Affirmative Action in state hiring, college scholarships and state business, meaning it would prohibit special treatment based on race or sex in public employment, education and contracts.

The League of Women Voters is strictly non-partisan on candidates and political parties, but Hope-Hernandez says they do take positions on some public policy issues and this is one of them.

"That is a state question the League of Women Voters is opposing," says Hope-Hernandez, "The League of Women Voters has a long history of non-discrimination and we feel that Affirmative Action is still an important part of our society to help level the playing field."

Of course, many feel that Affirmative Action is a form of discrimination.

"And," counters Hope-Hernandez, "we would disagree with that."

State Question 762: Removing the Governor from the parole process for non-violent offenders

SQ 762 would take the Governor’s office out of the process of deciding which non-violent state prison inmates get parole.

The Tulsa Chapter of the League of Women Voters has only taken a position on two of the state questions, this one included.

"The League of Women Voters supports passage of this one," says Hope-Hernandez.

"By passing this, the State of Oklahoma will join all of the other states in the nation by removing the Governor and therefore politics, from the parole process."

This question has no organized opposition.

State Question 764: Allows Oklahoma Water Resources Board to issue bonds

Hope-Hernandez says the League of Women Voters has not taken a position on SQ 764.

"Proponents say that this is going to help increase the (board's) leveraging capacity by providing low-interest loans to local governments for water and sewer improvements. We're seeing that there are infrastructure issues all across the state and proponents are saying that this is going to help with those issues.

"Opponents are saying, bottomline, Oklahoma doesn't need to incur any additional debt."

The bonds issued by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board could not exceed $300 million.

State Question 765: Public Welfare Department amendment

"It abolishes the Department of Human Services."

At least, as it currently exists.

Hope-Hernandez says this amendment would move authority for the Human Services Department from the executive to the legislative branch.

She says the legislature would then have to "create a new entity to oversee state care of our neediest children and the aged.

"People who are for this say DHS is out of date and there have been scandals that show that it's not working.

"The opponents of this say that, despite these recent events, the system is not so broken as to require such drastic measures."

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