Claremore Daily Progress

November 4, 2012

Voters to decide state questions

Salesha Wilken
Staff Reporter

ROGERS COUNTY — Oklahomans will be getting a few extra items on the Nov. 6 ballot, as six state questions will be decided on Tuesday. 

Of the six, two deal with taxes, two are administrative in nature and one addresses affirmative action.
State Questions 758, 759, 762, 764, 765 and 766 include a bit of length and voters should come prepared, according to Julie Dermody, Rogers County Election Board Secretary.
SQ 758 amends the state constitution and deals with ad valorem or property tax. Property tax is based on several factors including the fair cash value of a property. 
This measure would change the limit on fair cash value increases. 
“Basically, the issue will not help the tax payer a lot; it is only for properties that are listed as homestead or agriculture,” said Rogers County Assessor Scott Marsh.
It will only save the property owner only $12 to $15 a year, it will however impact the future growth for entities such as area schools systems.
It could cause sinking funds to increase, which will wash out any savings, according to Marsh.
When the schools do not receive enough revenue with property taxes then the only option is to pass bond issues which could drive up mileage rates, Marsh added.
Currently, the increase limit of the increase is five percent.
SQ 766 also deals with taxes; it exempts some personal property from being included in property taxation.
The personal property issue could impact Rogers County depending on the state level assessments of entities like AEP or other businesses, according to Marsh.
However, those that favor the measure point out the impact it would have on small business owners.
Virtually every Oklahoma family or business owns intangible property, often without even realizing it. 
Exempting intangible property will permanently protect families and small businesses from new taxes on items like pensions, retirement benefits, professional licenses (such as teaching certificates and nursing licenses), apartment leases, insurance policies and employment contracts. 
Since most states do not tax this type of property, passing State Question 766 will keep Oklahoma jobs and businesses on an even playing field with competitors in other states, according to www.okprosperity.com
SQ 762 simply decreases the power of the Governor by removing the Governor from the parole process for persons convicted of certain offenses defined as nonviolent offenses.
Currently, Oklahoma is the only state in which the Governor is still involved in the parole process for all offenders. 
SQ 765 will abolish the Oklahoma Department of Human Services and certain positions within it. It will provide for direct administration to be created by the Oklahoma Legislature including but not limited to creation of departments or departments to carry out laws to provide for the aged or needy.
 SQ 764 allows the Oklahoma Water Resources Board to issue bonds. The measure is designed to help rural Oklahoma water districts and other public bodies with funding. The funding would be reserved for certain water resource and sewage treatment funding programs.
SQ 759 deals with three areas of government action. The areas are education, employment and contracting.
The measure would prohibit the use of affirmative action programs to give preferred treatment based on race, color or gender, ethnicity or national origin.
Proponents of this measure believe that affirmative action has become the equivalent to a quota system and peoples should only be hired based on their qualifications. 
The business aspect of this measure comes into play when dealing with “bid preferences” and drives up the costs of government, according to www.okprosperity.com.
Some restrictions to the law remain and affirmative action will still be permitted when gender is a bonafide qualification under existing court order or if needed to keep or obtain federal funds.