Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Homework for Tuesday

We're voting on four state questions on Tuesday. Here is the text from the Oklahoma State Election Board, along with some small commentary by me.


Issue: Property tax exemption for disabled veterans
State Question 735
Legislative Referendum 343
Originating Legislation: HB 1808 (2007)
Principal Authors: Senator Mike Mazzei, Representative Randy Terrill
Election Date: November 4, 2008

Ballot Title (as re-written by the Attorney General)
This measure amends the Oklahoma Constitution. It adds Section 8D to Article 10. The measure takes effect January 1, 2009. It creates an exemption from personal property tax. The exemption would be for the full amount of taxes due on all household personal property. The exemption would apply to certain injured veterans. It would also apply to those veterans’ surviving spouses.

To qualify for the exemption an injured veteran would have to meet certain requirements. First, a branch of the Armed Forces or the Oklahoma National Guard would have to have honorably discharged the veteran from active service. Second, the veteran would have to be an Oklahoma resident. Third, the veteran would have to be the head of the household. Fourth, the veteran would have to be one hundred percent permanently disabled. Fifth, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs would have to certify the disability. Sixth, the disability must have occurred through military action or accident, or resulted from a disease contracted while in active service. The Legislature could pass laws to carry out the exemption. Such laws could not change the amount of the exemption.

Personally, I think Vets don't see nearly enough benefits, particularly disabled Vets. If someone is rendered unable to work as a result of them taking a bullet or a grenade to keep me and my family safe, I'll pick up the slack for their property tax. Vets already have difficulty seeing the full benefits they are already entitled by law. I have no problem adding this to the list in the hope that it relieves the sacrifices they and their families have made for their country. -------------------------------------------------------------------

Issue: Applications for property tax exemptions State Question 741
Legislative Referendum 344
Originating Legislation: HB 3354 (2008)
Principal Authors: Senator Jim Wilson, Representative Randy Terrill
Election Date: November 4, 2008

Ballot Title (as re-written by the Attorney General) This measure amends the Oklahoma Constitution. It would add a new Section 22A to Article 10. This section is related to exemptions from property taxes. It would require a person or business to file an application for an exemption. No exemption could be granted prior to filing an application. The Legislature may write laws to carry out the provisions of this section.

I see justification for this bill for two reasons. 1) Randy Terrill is listed as a co-author, and I trust his judgment. 2) There was recently unearthed by Rep. Mike Reynolds a list of people who received personal and business property tax exemptions from Gov. Henry, with no paper trail or regular justification. We need such paper trails to verify these exemptions are given justly, not as kickbacks or rewards. -------------------------------------------------------

Issue: Rights of hunting, trapping, fishing and taking game or fish State Question 742
Legislative Referendum 345
Originating Legislation: SJR 38 (2008)
Principal Authors: Senator Glenn Coffee, Representative Randy Terrill
Election Date: November 4, 2008

Ballot Title (as approved by the Attorney General)
This measure adds a new section to the State Constitution. It adds Section 36 to Article 2. It gives all people of this state the right to hunt, trap, fish and take game and fish. Such activities would be subject to reasonable regulation. It allows the Wildlife Conservation Commission to approve methods and procedures for hunting, trapping, fishing and taking of game and fish. It allows for taking game and fish by traditional means. It makes hunting, fishing, and trapping the preferred means to manage certain game and fish. The new law will not affect existing laws relating to property rights.

This bill has been given the stamp of approval by the NRA, so it's probably alright. ----------------------------------------------------------------------

Issue: Sales of wine by winemakers State Question 743
Legislative Referendum 346
Originating Legislation: SJR 29 (2008)
Principal Authors: Senator Tom Ivester, Representative Danny Morgan
Election Date: November 4, 2008

Ballot Title (as re-written by the Attorney General)
This measure amends Section 3 of Article 28 of the Constitution. It requires a customer to be twenty-one and physically present to purchase wine at a winery, festival or trade show. The measure changes the law to allow certain winemakers to sell directly to retail package stores and restaurants in Oklahoma. The change applies to winemakers who produce up to ten thousand gallons of wine a year. It applies to winemakers in state and out of state. Those winemakers may not also use a licensed wholesale distributor. They must sell their wine to every retail package store and restaurant in Oklahoma that wants to buy the wine. The sales must be on the same price basis. The sales must be without discrimination. Those winemakers must use their own leased or owned vehicles to distribute their wine. They may not use common or private carriers. If any part of this measure is found to be unconstitutional, no winemaker could sell wine directly to retail package stores or restaurants in Oklahoma.

Honestly, I'm not sure what to make of this one. Winemakers who produce 10,000 gallons of wine a year can sell directly to retailers, but not to distributors? And there is a caveat "just in case" this measure is found to be unconstitutional? I'm all for free trade, but this seems to be a measure limiting certain regulation by imposing other regulation. I just don't know. I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts. --------------------------------------------------------------

Contact For More Information:

The Senate staff members listed below may be able to provide further information on the state questions listed in this legislative brief. However, the provisions of Section 16-119 of Title 26 of the Oklahoma Statutes prohibit state officials from directing or authorizing the expenditure of public funds to be used in support of or in opposition to measures being referred to the people for a vote, and provide misdemeanor penalties for offenses. In addition, rules of the Ethics Commission prohibit the use of public funds, property or time to influence the results of a ballot measure. Due to these restrictions, the information on state questions that the Senate staff is able to provide may be limited. Committees raising or expending funds in support of or in opposition to a state question are required to register with the Ethics Commission (

State Questions 735 and 741: Joanie Raff, Legislative Analyst Judy King, Staff Attorney

State Question 742: Jeri Trope, Legislative Analyst

State Question 743: Lexa Shafer, Legislative Analyst Selden Jones, Staff Attorney

Prepared By: The Oklahoma State Senate, Senate Staff Senator Mike Morgan, President Pro Tempore Senator Glenn Coffee, Co-President Pro Tempore


bc said...

Wine distribution laws like the one proposed shouldn't hold up to a realistic judicial review as they restrict interstate commerce.

PM said...

By applying to out-of-state wineries as well, you mean?