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Oklahoma's state questions to bring changes

DHS still exists. That's the first thing Oklahoma Department of Human Services officials want the public to know in the wake of Oklahoma voters' overwhelming approval of six state questions that have generated as many questions as they have provided answers.
by Randy Ellis Published: November 8, 2012

State Rep. Jason Nelson, who helped draft DHS reform legislation, said lawmakers likely will look to members of the new advisory panels for advice on what to do about the older panels.

Other changes

Voters also approved two state questions involving property taxes Tuesday.

Those changes will become effective Jan. 1.

After that date, all intangible personal property will be exempt from ad valorem property taxation and county assessors will be prohibited from raising appraisals of agricultural land and owner-occupied homes with homestead exemptions by more than 3 percent a year.

Public schools and vocational-technical schools are expecting to collectively lose about $55 million a year in funding once the measures take effect next year, according to Jeff Mills, director of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association.

“They (schools) cut programs, they cut staff, they cut their expenses. That's all they can do,” Mills told The Associated Press.

Voters also approved a measure that will remove the governor from the parole process for persons convicted of certain nonviolent offenses.

Pardon and Parole Board parole recommendations currently pending before the governor will still require her approval for inmates to be released, said Terry Jenks, director of the agency.

Beginning with the December parole board meeting, however, nonviolent offenders approved for parole by the board will not require the governor's approval, he said.

Steele and state Sen. Josh Brecheen, authors of the Senate joint resolution that prompted the public vote on parole changes, said the Legislature next session should work to address issues concerning Pardon and Parole Board safeguards raised by Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater.

by Randy Ellis
Investigative Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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