Oklahoma voters decisively defeated two state questions a few weeks ago in the General Election.
State Questions 805 and 814 were soundly rejected.
In defeating SQ 805, voters in Pottawatomie and Lincoln Counties joined those across the state in shelving attempts to reform state sentencing laws.
By rejecting SQ 814, they also thwarted the State Legislature’s attempt of what we termed a “money grab.”
More than 70 percent of Lincoln County voters opposed SQ 805 and nearly 64 percent were against SQ 814, according to State Election Board figures.
In Pottawatomie County, more than 62 percent voted against SQ 805 and nearly 62 percent opposed SQ 814.
Statewide, SQ 805 drew 1,511,608 votes and 61 percent were against it.
There were 1,492,593 votes cast on State Question 814 statewide and only 41 percent favored it.
Proponents of SQ 805 appeared to spend a large sum of money trying to amend a portion of the state’s constitution to change Oklahoma’s sentencing laws.
It received a great deal of media attention.
Among leading proponents of the ballot measure were former House Speaker Kris Steele of Shawnee and Allan Grubb, District Attorney of Pottawatomie and Lincoln Counties.
Grubb even strongly blasted Pottawatomie County Sheriff Mike Booth and the Oklahoma Sheriff’s Association for not backing the proposal. By the way, Booth won re-election to his position soundly defeating two Republican challengers in the June primary without needing a runoff.
This proposal lacked the broad-base support it needed from law enforcement across the state and voters apparently didn’t trust what they were hearing.
Somehow SQ 814 remained under the radar prior to the election. Voters seemed to understand it well though.
Currently, a section of the state’s Constitution directs 75 percent of the proceeds from the state’s settlements with or judgments against the tobacco companies to the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Fund, where earnings may only be used for tobacco prevention programs, cancer research and other related programs to maintain the health of Oklahomans.
The funds are aimed at providing healthier lifestyles for Oklahoma citizens and voters obviously understood that.
The remaining 25 percent of the proceeds currently are directed to a separate fund for the Legislature.
Had SQ 814 passed, it would have reversed those percentages. The Legislature would have received 75 percent of those funds and TSET would only have gotten the 25 percent.
That’s why we referred to it as a “money grab.”
Oklahoma voters saw through what state lawmakers were attempting to do and it’s good they did.
If SQ 814 had been approved, it could have negatively impacted Lincoln and Pottawatomie Counties and others across Oklahoma that previously have benefitted from the fund.
There are several communities in Lincoln and Pottawatomie Counties that have received TSET funds to promote healthier lifestyles among its citizens.
Oklahomans agreed the current system is working fine and the message to lawmakers is if it’s working, leave it alone.