For the most part, the six state questions on Tuesday's ballot in Oklahoma generated none of the noise and debate that accompanied others in the recent past (think lottery and tobacco tax in 2004, Sharia law and education funding two years ago). Yet voters' decisions will have a significant impact in state affairs.
Voters gave 60 percent approval to State Question 765, which dissolves the board that oversees the Department of Human Services and makes the director of DHS a position appointed by the governor. Previously the nine-member Human Services Commission selected the agency director.
This change in governance stemmed from a string of events related to DHS, the state's largest agency. DHS's handling of child-death cases and evidence that some commission members weren't fully engaged in their oversight role led to SQ 765. In giving the governor a stronger hand in steering DHS, voters said the status quo wasn't good enough.
By approving SQ 762, voters weakened the governor's power because the constitutional amendment removes the governor from the parole process. Gov. Mary Fallin opposed the question but voters clearly didn't see the need for Oklahoma to remain the only state that has its governor bless every parole recommendation — a time-consuming and costly exercise. It received 59 percent support.
The most-publicized state question was 766, regarding intangible property taxes. The publicity stemmed from an advertising blitz and letter-writing campaign by The State Chamber, and it paid off. The question was approved with 65 percent support.
But Oklahomans' views regarding taxation were most visible in their support for SQ 758. This amendment limits property tax increases by capping at 3 percent the amount county assessors can raise appraisals on agricultural land and owner-occupied homes with homestead exemptions. The previous cap had been 5 percent. Voters made it clear they've grown weary of seeing that cap reached every year — they gave 68 percent approval to SQ 758.