Oklahoma voters approve, deny state questions

OKLAHOMA CITY –  In addition to voting on several key races, Oklahomans also voiced their opinions on five state questions.

State Question 793 would allow eye care facilities inside large retail stores, like Walmart and Target.

If the measure was approved, SQ 793 would have amended the state constitution to allow optometrists and opticians to practice in retailers and allow the legislature to regulate them. Currently, Oklahoma law prohibits getting eyes examined and filling eyeglasses prescription within the same store.

On Tuesday, it was a close race to see whether or not the state question would pass. At some points, there were less than 1,000 votes separating the two sides.

Ultimately, it failed by less than 6,000 votes.

“While we are disappointed in tonight’s outcome, we are excited that we have brought this to the attention of voters.  Even the most vocal of opponents have repeatedly indicated they have no problem with the basic concepts of allowing these functions in retail settings, but [were] just opposed to the Constitutional nature and one specific line.  We are ready to remove that line and seek a legislative remedy for those Oklahoma families who desire additional choices,” a statement from Yes on 793 read.

“The campaign against State Question 793 was a scare campaign that worked. To protect their profits, a special interest convinced Oklahomans that a few more choices for eyecare would be dangerous,” a statement by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs read. “Having lived in states where you can get an eye exam and a pair of glasses at Costco, I can say that the result here is a real tragedy, especially for Oklahomans in rural and underserved parts of our state.”

State Question 794, also known as Marsy’s Law, is a measure that guarantees certain rights for crime victims. The measure was overwhelmingly passed, receiving more than 78% of the vote.

“The effort to pass Marsy’s Law has always been driven by people whose lives have been profoundly impacted by crime,” said Marsy’s Law for Oklahoma Executive Director Kim Moyer. “They know firsthand how the criminal justice system can make people feel powerless, voiceless and lost. Because of their hard work, we are starting a new chapter tonight. We are creating a system that treats victims as human beings worthy of respect instead of numbers on a court docket.”

SQ 794 places a new, specific set of distinct rights for crime victims in the Oklahoma Constitution, including:

  • The right to have standing in court
  • The right to present at all proceedings involving the case
  • The right to reasonable and timely notice of proceedings
  • The right to be heard in any proceeding during which a right of the victim is implicated including release, plea, sentencing, disposition, parole, revocation, expungement or pardon
  • The right to timely notice of any release, escape or death of the accused, if the accused is in custody or on supervision at the time of death
  • The right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay.
    The right to timely information about the outcome of the case

State Question 798 would allow candidates for governor and lieutenant governor to run on a joint ticket, much like candidates for U.S. president and vice president.

Candidates for governor and lieutenant governor in Oklahoma are currently elected separately, meaning candidates from different political parties could hold the state’s top two offices.

The measure failed 54% to 45%.

State Question 800 would create the “Oklahoma Vision Fund” as a way to prevent the boom and bust effect of the oil industry on state agencies. If approved,  five percent of the total collections from the gross production tax would be deposited into the fund, beginning in 2020. That amount would then increase by 0.2% each year. The measure failed 57% to 42%.

State Question 801 would give local school boards the option to use existing property tax revenue for use in the classroom, such as teacher pay and textbooks, without raising taxes. Revenue is currently primarily used for building funds. The measure failed 50% to 49%.

“Union politics killed State Question 801 tonight. Powerful union executives would rather preserve funding silos that benefit special interests than let money flow to the classroom. State Question 801’s failure also suggests that some local communities don’t trust their own school boards to make financial decisions,” Jonathan Small, president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, said.

The Oklahoma Education Association release this statement in response to state question 801’s failure:

“We are pleased Oklahoma voters rejected SQ 801. They want to continue directly ad valorem property tax dollars to school maintenance, repairs, upkeep and construction of school district facilities and property. SQ 801 would have caused an even greater financial gap between wealthy and poor school districts, and it would have shifted the responsibility of funding teacher salaries to local school boards instead of keeping it where it belongs — the responsibility of the Oklahoma Legislature.”