SQ 793 Allows Optometrists and Opticians to Operate in Retail Stores
SQ 793 is an amendment to the Oklahoma constitution. This amendment is being brought to the ballot by signature petition, meaning enough signatures were received and verified for it to be placed on the ballot. It gives optometrists and opticians the right to practice and sell prescription optical products within retail stores (stores like Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart, Sams Club, etc.) and allows those optometrists to limit the scope of their practice within those retail stores. The state question allows the legislature to enact laws to prevent surgeries in the in-store eye clinics and allows the legislature to regulate the number of locations where a single optometrist can practice simultaneously. However, it prevents the legislature from enacting laws discriminating against optometrists and opticians who practice in retail establishments and prevents laws limiting the ability to sell optometry products in retail establishments.
Our current state law bans eye clinics in retail establishments. To get around this law, clinics currently located in retail stores are owned by an independent optometrist in leased space at the perimeter of the retail store. This allows the clinic to be accessed from the outside of the retail establishment. Customers, by law, cannot access the clinic from within the retail store.
Forty-seven states allow the sale of glasses in stores and thirty-four states allow an optometrist clinic inside retail establishments. However, Oklahoma would be the first state where large, retail establishments would have the ability to determine how an optometrist would be able to practice.
Those who support SQ 793 argue it creates better and easier access to eye care, removes business regulation and promotes convenience. They also contend this will lead to increased competition and drive eye-care prices lower. Finally, supporters say Oklahoma’s regulatory environment for eye doctors stifles business opportunities.
Those who oppose SQ 793 argue it will hurt small business since it will drive some optometrists out of business. They say it will also allow large retail establishments to increase costs once the small, independent optometrists have gone out of business. Opponents argue allowing large, retail establishments to limit the scope of the optometry practice will lead to a lower standard of eye care.
Additionally, those in opposition contend, if enacted, this question would make Oklahoma the only state in the nation to allow a retail company to supersede the authority of the legislature. In other words, opponents argue this would be the first time a corporation has successfully amended the constitution in any state. They say putting this measure in the constitution will tie the legislature’s hands in making changes if there are unintended consequences. Finally, opponents argue SQ 793 is less about increasing the quality of eye-care and more about increasing the profits of large, retail establishments. Optometrists argue their prices are already less expensive than Wal-Mart’s prices (Oklahoma Optical Retailers Association).
A YES vote means you support allowing retail establishments to own and operate eye clinics within their stores.
A NO vote means you are against allowing retail establishments to own and operate eye clinics within their stores.
(Sources: Oklahoma Policy Institute, The Oklahoma State Chamber and Oklahoma Optical Retailers)
SQ794 Marsy’s Law
SQ 794 will amend the state constitution with the goal of giving victims of crimes equal rights with the accused and/or convicted in both adult and juvenile proceedings. It aims to expand victim’s rights to victims’ family members, as well. Victims’ rights added by SQ 794 are: the right to talk to a prosecutor, the right to reasonable protection, the right to be heard at proceedings and that those proceedings are free from unreasonable delay, the right to be notified of proceedings like hearings, sentencing, release or parole, and the right to refuse interview requests from the accused or convicted person’s attorney without a subpoena.
A version of Marsy’s Law was first passed in California in 2008. It is spearheaded by Henry T. Nicholas, the founder of Broadcom. Nicholas’ sister, Marsy Nicholas (pictured), was murdered by her ex-boyfriend. Days later, the ex-boyfriend was out on bail and confronted Henry and his mother at a grocery store. They were not notified of his release from custody. In response, Henry has used his wealth to ensure victims of crimes are notified when the accused or convicted are released from custody and a number of other victims’ rights.
Supporters of SQ 794 argue the state question will give victims co-equal rights with the accused and convicted. They say people accused and/or convicted of crimes should not have more rights than their victims. Victims should have a say in plea bargaining and be able to participate in the case. Also, by placing the right to be notified in the constitution will force agencies to notify victims. The state question is supported by many Oklahoma prosecutors and many who serve in law
Those opposed to SQ 794 contend the state question will be expensive to implement. They say allowing victims to testify at many, if not all, stages of the legal process will jeopardize fair trials, parole hearings and, ultimately, due process. Additionally, those opposed argue there are already victims’ laws in the Oklahoma constitution. Additionally, this question has many separate rights in it, it could be struck down by the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Montana’s Supreme Court struck it down on the grounds voters need to decide on each right individually, not as a package of rights. They argue extending victims’ rights to the victims’ family members is concerning, as well.
Finally, those opposed argue - because of privacy concerns raised by the Attorney General’s office - victims would no longer know the defendants’ locations following arrest, during sentencing, imprisonment or probation. This provision was originally built-into Marsy’s law, but it was deleted. Supporters, however, argue state statute already requires the location of the defendant to be shared with victims.
A YES vote amends the constitution to adopt Marcy's Law.
A NO vote is a rejection of the Marsy's Law amendment and keeps current victims rights.
(Sources: Senate Joint Resolution 46, Oklahoma Watch, Oklahoma Policy Institute, The Oklahoma State Chamber)
SQ 798 Governor and Lieutenant Governor on a Joint Ticket
**Remember, this synopsis of State Question 798 is for informational purposes. The goal is to inform, not persuade.**
SQ 798 is a state constitutional amendment. It will require the governor and lieutenant governor to run together on the same ticket. It will mimic how we vote for our president and vice president at the federal level. If passed, these offices will not be elected together until 2026.
Currently, we vote for the governor and lieutenant governor separately. 26 states require these positions to run together on a single ticket. Some allow the gubernatorial nominee to choose his or her running mate and some states use primary elections to determine who will be paired with the governor on the ticket.
Supporters of SQ 798 argue this change will ensure the governor and lieutenant governor are from the same party, which increases the likelihood of a unified vision, better coordination, and more efficient policy implementation. All of these point to a more effective executive branch. Supporters also point out this change will create a CEO-type situation in the executive branch allowing for more oversight of state agencies. Also, if the governor dies, the lieutenant governor can take over seamlessly. Finally, running the positions together may increase attention and awareness about the lieutenant governor and his or her role and actually strengthen the position.
Opponents assert SQ 798 does not set up a process for how the lieutenant governor will be chosen, which causes confusion. They say voters already do a good job researching the lieutenant governor and governor positions at election time. Those opposed argue a joint ticket will concentrate too much power in the governor’s office and if the governor dies, is removed from office, or is impeached, an independent lieutenant governor is a better option. Finally, some believe the lieutenant governor position is weak and the position should be abolished altogether.
A YES vote will put the governor and lieutenant governor on the same ticket.
A NO vote is for keeping the governor and lieutenant governor running on separate tickets.
(Sources: Senate Joint Resolution 66, Oklahoma Policy Institute and The State Chamber of Oklahoma)
SQ 800 is a state constitutional amendment which creates a trust fund called the “Oklahoma Vision Fund.” The fund will begin to be funded on July 1, 2020 with 5 percent of the total of gross production taxes (GPT) collected on oil and gas. Each year after, an extra two-tenths of a percent of GPT will be funneled into the fund. The funds will be invested by the State Treasurer and all interest will remain in the fund.
The amount of the trust fund will be averaged over a 5 year period. 4 percent of the trust fund’s 5 year average will be deposited into the General Revenue Fund (GRF) to fund government services like education, roads and bridges, public safety, and more. As the trust fund grows, the deposits into the GRF will grow proportionately. The larger the fund, the larger the deposit into the GRF.
Those supporting SQ800 argue the fund helps our state prepare for the future. Oil and gas are non-renewable resources and this fund will allow us to save now for future needs. They also contend this is a wise measure because it has the potential to stabilize and supplement our long-range budget needs without raising taxes because the fund is guaranteed to grow. It is important to note most energy-rich states already have trust funds like this.
Those opposed argue trust fund plans like this are unproven, could be mismanaged, and because a portion of GPT is being invested into the fund, the legislature will have less money to work with in the short-term. To expound on this, they argue we have the Rainy Day Fund and the Revenue Stabilization Fund, already. Those funds receive portions of GPT. With all three funds receiving GPT, they argue too much GPT could be diverted in the short-term.
Vote YES if you are for the Vision Fund
Vote NO if you are against the Vision Fund
(Sources: Senate Joint Resolution 35, Oklahoma Policy Institute and The State Chamber of Oklahoma)
SQ 801 Allows Local Funds Designated for School Buildings to be Used for School Operations and Teacher Pay.
SQ801 is a state constitutional amendment. It will change the way schools can spend 5 mills of property (ad valorem) taxes. A mill is a measure of property taxes; the term “mill” is from Latin and translates to “thousandth.” A one millage tax rate translates to $1 for every $1,000 of assessed value. In this case, the rate is 5 mills or $5 of every $1000 in assessed property value. Currently, schools are limited in how they can spend property taxes by the state constitution. It directs districts to use the 5 mills of property taxes specifically for school property maintenance, landscaping, construction and remodeling.
SQ 801 will change the constitution to not only allow schools to use those property taxes on all the items mentioned above, but also to buy classroom supplies, books, fund teacher pay and other fund other operational expenses. *It is important to understand school bonds are not affected by this ballot measure.
Those who support SQ 801 argue it will make school districts more competitive with other districts. Using property taxes to increase teacher salaries could draw more and better teachers. Also, they believe SQ 801 will give school districts more flexibility with their budgets, especially during lean financial times to minimize the impact of non-budgeted mid-year budget cuts. Supporters say this measure empowers local control, as well, because local school boards know their funding needs and will have more control of their finances to get funding to the needed areas. SQ 801 simply gives school districts a choice in how to spend the 5 mills of property taxes.
Those who are against SQ 801 argue it allows state government to shirk its responsibility to fund education and shifts some the funding of teacher salaries to the local level. Also, opponents contend school districts already use most or all property taxes on facilities, janitorial services and maintenance; this measure puts more pressure on those funds. Opponents are concerned that poor financial decisions by school boards and administrators regarding these property taxes could put district budgets in a bind and lead to an increase in school bond measures. Also, they say wealthier districts will have an advantage over less wealthy districts, which may affect educational outcomes. Finally, opponents argue this measure does not increase school funding.
A YES vote means you support amending the constitution to allow schools to choose to use property taxes for teacher pay, textbooks, supplies and other expenses.
A NO Vote means you want schools to use property taxes on what they are being used for currently.
(Sources: Senate Joint Resolution 70, Oklahoma Policy Institute and The State Chamber of Oklahoma)
Marcus McEntire represents Oklahoma House District 50.