Oklahoma voters approved a trio of Republican-backed statewide measures Tuesday.
The measures make English the state's official language, allow Oklahomans to opt out of a health care system and ban Oklahoma courts from considering international or Islamic law for case decisions. They are among 11 state questions voters decided Tuesday.
With 82 percent of precincts counted, yes votes accounted for 76 percent of the official English language measure, 70 percent of the international law measure and 65 percent of the health care opt-out measure.
A Republican majority Legislature overrode Gov. Brad Henry's vetoes of those three measures to get them on Tuesday's ballot.
State Question 751 mandates that official state actions be conducted in English, with a few exceptions. Oklahoma joins about 30 other states that have adopted similar measures, according to Tim Schultz, director of government relations for U.S. English, Inc., a national citizen action group with about 1.8 million members.
Exceptions to the official English language measure would be made for American Indian languages, or if federal law requires the use of other languages.
The measure also prevents lawsuits from being brought against the state or subdivisions of the state if a state agency fails to use a language other than English.
Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, who was involved with rewriting the measure, said English already is essentially the language Oklahoma officials use to conduct business. The measure was intended to protect the state against lawsuits that could be costly to taxpayers, such as a court order that would require the state to provide street signs in another language, Anderson said.
Sen. Harry Coates, R-Seminole, described the initiative as a "meek and mild measure."
"It doesn't have any meat to it," Coates said. "It just says if we're going to do business in Oklahoma, we're going to do it in English."
David Castillo, executive director of the Greater Oklahoma City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said the English-only measure was unnecessary.
"I think it's politicians just trying to make a point with all the immigration issues," Castillo said.
Rey Madrid, president of the Oklahoma City Council of the League of United Latin American Citizens, said he is opposed to the measure because he believes it will cause discrimination and racism.
"Oklahoma, like many other states, is a state of immigrants," Madrid said. "Why try to deny that?"
SQ 746: Voter ID
It would require voters to show identification at the polls. It passed. Those without the required identification could sign a sworn statement and cast a provisional ballot.
SQ 747: Statewide office term limits
It would limit the number of years officials may serve certain statewide elected offices. It passed. The measure imposes an eight-year limit on the office of the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, treasurer, labor commissioner, auditor and inspector, insurance commissioner and superintendent. The corporation commissioner is limited to 12 years.
SQ 748: Legislative apportionment
It would change the makeup of the three-member legislative Apportionment Commission. It passed. The measure removes the attorney general, state superintendent and treasurer from the board and makes it a seven-member commission appointed by the governor, Senate president pro tempore and House speaker.
SQ 750: Petition signatures
Early results for this measure were split, with about half of voters in favor of the measure and half against it. If approved, the measure would change the number of signatures required for initiative and referendum petitions. It would require the number of signatures to be based on the percentage of votes cast during gubernatorial elections, instead of alternating between votes cast for governor and for president. The measure would likely decrease the number of signatures required during some years because presidential elections tend to produce more votes.
SQ 752: Judicial nominations
It adds two at-large members to the Judicial Nominating Commission, which nominates candidates for judge or justice when a spot opens. It passed. The members would be appointed by the Senate president pro tempore and the House speaker. They cannot be lawyers or have a lawyer in their immediate family.
SQ 757: Increase reserve funds
Early results for this measure were close, with about 51 percent of voters in favor of the measure, which would increase the amount of surplus revenue that goes into the state's constitutional reserve fund from 10 percent to 15 percent of certified general revenue funds. About 49 percent of early votes had come in against the measure.