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November 6, 2012

State Questions gain approval from voters

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma voters approved all six state questions during Tuesday’s election.

Property Tax Cap Lowered
Voters approved a constitutional amendment that limits the yearly increase in some property taxes to 3 percent.
The amendment’s passage Tuesday means the maximum increase will be lowered from 5 percent. It goes into effect Jan. 1 and only applies to homestead exempted property and agricultural land.
Supporters say limiting the increase to 3 percent yearly will reduce financial hardships on homeowners, particularly those on fixed incomes.
Opponents argued the limit would primarily benefit the wealthy and would result in a loss of revenue for schools, libraries, local governments, the career-tech system and state-funded health services.
DHS Restructured
Voters approved a measure to restructure the state's troubled human services department.
Supporters say it will add accountability to a department that has struggled with a string of child neglect cases and a class-action lawsuit in recent years.
The measure abolishes the title of the agency, its board of commissioners and its ability to set policy. It shifts oversight and power to the governor's office, which will appoint the agency’s director with the consent of the Oklahoma Senate.
Opponents of the measure say it goes too far in trying to right the agency’s past mistakes.
But Gov. Mary Fallin has said the measure will complement Oklahoma’s Pinnacle Plan, a $153 million blueprint for overhauling the foster care system over the next five years.
Governor Out of Pardon and Parole Process
A proposal to take the governor out of the pardon and parole process for nonviolent offenders was approved by voters Tuesday.
The proposal was among six state questions decided in statewide balloting Tuesday.
Under the proposal, the Oklahoma Constitution will be amended to increase the power and authority of the state Pardon and Parole Board. It will remove the governor from the pardon and parole process for people convicted of nonviolent offenses and grant that authority solely to the board.

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