Two state questions will appear on the November 3 general election ballot. State Question 805 was placed on the ballot by gathering signatures from citizens; State Question 814 was referred to a vote of the people by the Oklahoma Legislature. Each question is reprinted here as it will appear on the ballot followed by a brief summary.
Vote November 3, 2020
Vote November 3, 2020

STATE QUESTION NO. 805

INITIATIVE PETITION NO. 421

This measure seeks to add a new Article II-A to the Oklahoma Constitution. This new Article excepts and does not apply to persons who have ever been convicted of a violent felony. It would prohibit the use of a former felony conviction to increase the statutorily allowable base range of punishment for a person subsequently convicted of a felony. Individuals who are currently incarcerated for felony sentences that were enhanced based on one or more former felony convictions, and whose sentences are greater than the maximum sentence that may currently be imposed for such felonies, may seek sentence modification in court. The new Article sets forth a detailed process for such sentence modification, including but not limited to requirements for a hearing, appointment of counsel for indigent petitioners, and notification of victims, and requires that the court impose a modified sentence no greater than the current maximum sentence which may be imposed on a person convicted of the same felony with no former felony convictions, and which results in no greater time served in prison than under the original sentence. It establishes an appeal procedure, provides an effective date, and contains a severability clause.

SHALL THE PROPOSAL BE APPROVED? FOR THE PROPOSAL - YES
AGAINST THE PROPOSAL - NO

SUMMARY: State Question 805 will be on the Nov. 3 ballot after nearly 250,000 Oklahoma voters signed an initiative petition. It was billed as a “smart on crime” measure that could result in up to $186 million prison cost savings. The measure prohibits Oklahoma judges from using previous nonviolent felony convictions as a reason to increase prison sentences for defendants convicted of new nonviolent crimes. Current inmates who received enhanced sentences for nonviolent felony convictions could ask the court for sentence reductions. If approved, new guidelines require the court to impose a sentence no greater than the current maximum sentence given for a person with no former nonviolent felony convictions for the same crime. The Constitutional Amendment establishes a hearing process, appointment of counsel for indigents, notification of victims and an appeals procedure. Proponents say Oklahoma inmates convicted of property and drug crimes currently spend more than 70 percent more time behind bars than the national average. Opponents, including some law enforcement groups, anti-domestic violence advocates, and the state district attorneys association, say the measure is a misguided attempt to give repeat offenders multiple chances. In reality, they say, the measure is a get-out-of-jail card for career criminals who could return to their communities and commit more crimes. They say non-violent offenses could include domestic violence in the presence of a child, animal cruelty, home burglary, arson, DUI or soliciting sex from a minor using technology.

STATE QUESTION NO. 814

LEGISLATIVE REFERENDUM NO. 375

This measure seeks to amend Article 10, Section 40 of the Oklahoma Constitution (Section 40), which directs proceeds from the State’s settlements with or judgments against tobacco companies. Currently, Section 40 directs 75% of proceeds to the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Fund (TSET Fund), where earnings may only be used for tobacco prevention programs, cancer research, and other such programs to maintain or improve the health of Oklahomans. Meanwhile, the remaining 25% of proceeds are directed to a separate fund for the Legislature (Legislative Fund). The Legislature can also direct some of that 25% to the Attorney General.

This measure amends Section 40 to reduce the percentage of proceeds that go into the TSET Fund from 75% to 25%. As a result, the remaining 75% will go to the Legislative Fund and the Legislature may continue to direct a portion to the Attorney General. The measure would also restrict the use of the Legislative Fund. Section 40 currently states only that the Legislative Fund is subject to legislative appropriation. If this measure passes, money from the Legislative Fund must be used to get federal matching funds for Oklahoma’s Medicaid Program.

SHALL THE PROPOSAL BE APPROVED? FOR THE PROPOSAL - YES
AGAINST THE PROPOSAL - NO

SUMMARY: State Question 814, referred to voters by the state legislature, changes the amount of money directed to the state’s Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET Fund) from 75 percent of the annual payments to 25 percent. Currently, TSET receives 75 percent of the annual payment and the remaining 25 percent is directed to the legislature and the Attorney General. Oklahoma voters created TSET to manage smoking cessation, cancer research, obesity and other healthy living programs from the 1998 master settlement agreement between tobacco companies and 46 states. Only earnings on the state’s accumulated $1.3 billion fund are used each year. That amounts to between $70 million and $75 million payments to divide between TSET and the legislature. A yes vote on Nov. 3 would let lawmakers redirect TSET funds to pay for the current Medicaid program and the expanded program Oklahoma voters approved when they narrowly passed State Question 802 in June. If passed Nov. 3, the money from the Legislative portion of TSET would be used to get federal matching funds. Gov. Kevin Stitt, who opposed the Medicaid expansion, supports State Question 814 as a way to pay the state’s portion of Medicaid costs. A Constitutional amendment is required to change the settlement proceeds formula as voters earmarked the funds in 2000 by approving SQ 692 by nearly 69 percent. Some health groups, such as the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, oppose SQ 814 on the grounds that it diverts funding from programs that improve the health of all Oklahomans.

For more information about State Questions, see the Oklahoma State Election Board website at www.ok.gov/elections/Election_Info/State_Question_info.html

or the Oklahoma Secretary of State website at www.sos.ok.gov/gov/state_questions.aspx