Jenks-area voters to decide several local elections, state questions

Jenks-area voters to decide several local elections, state questions

Nov. 3 will be a big day across the country, as voters from every state will hit the polls to determine who will hold some of the highest political seats in the nation.

Here are several elections that will have a direct impact on the people living and working in the Jenks community, as well as information on the two state questions being voted on Tuesday:

United States Representative District 1

-Kevin Hern, Republican

-Kojo Asamoa-Caesar, Democrat

-Evelyn L. Rogers, Independent

State Senator District 37

-Cody Rogers, Republican

-Allison Ikley-Freeman, Democrat

State Representative District 68

-Lonnie Sims, Republican

-Michael Ross, Democrat

County Commissioner District 2

-Josh Turley, Republican

-Karen Keith, Democrat

Tuesday State Questions – Brief Summary and Political Landscape

-Oklahomans will be asked to consider two state questions on the Nov. 3, ballot

STATE QUESTION 805: Felony Sentence Modification

Background information

-SQ 805 is a criminal justice-related measure. It would prohibit using an individual’s past non-violent felony convictions as the grounds for a greater sentence when sentencing a person convicted of a non-violent felony. It would also provide for sentence modifications for eligible individuals serving enhanced sentences. SQ 805 was put on the ballot through the signature process and was submitted to the state in July 2020.

Criminal laws typically provide a time range for use in sentencing convictions, with the legislature given power to modify the sentencing range for a crime. Oklahoma law allows for “sentence enhancements” that may be considered if a person has prior convictions. These enhancements can allow much longer sentences than the original time range provided for many crimes. SQ 805 would amend the Oklahoma Constitution to limit this “sentence enhancement” only to crimes that the legislature classified as violent on or prior to Jan. 1, 2020.

Individuals who are currently incarcerated for felony sentences that were enhanced based on one or more former felony convictions, and whose sentences are greater than the maximum sentence that may currently be imposed for such felonies, may seek sentence modification in court. As stated above, this would not apply to those individuals convicted of violent felonies.

Political Considerations

-Supporters of SQ 805 include the ACLU of Oklahoma and Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform. OCPA has been supportive of and very active on the issue, although it is unknown whether they have officially endorsed the state question. The State Chamber and Oklahoma City Chamber have remained neutral.  Opponents of SQ 805 include Governor Kevin Stitt, who has been outspoken on the issue, and the District Attorney’s Association. It is important to point out that SQ 805 is an important issue for some Chamber retail businesses who find themselves victims of repetitive non-violent crime.

STATE QUESTION 814: Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Fund (TSET)

Background Information

-SQ 814 aims to secure the funding needed for some of Oklahoma’s portion of Medicaid expansion through adjustments in structure to the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) Fund. If approved, the question would decrease the percentage of money (75% to 25%) deposited into the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) Fund, sending those funds instead to Medicaid expansion efforts. SQ 814 was placed on the ballot through a bill authored by Oklahoma Senator Kim David.

The TSET Fund was created through State Question 692 in 2000, approved by voters with 69% in favor and 31% opposed. The TSET was funded through a percentage of revenue from tobacco companies under the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA). The money in the TSET fund was earmarked for tobacco use prevention, smoking cessation programs, education, health care, and other purposes as established by the fund’s board of directors.

As of 2020, the average annual payment received by Oklahoma under the Master Settlement Agreement was around $75 million. About $56.25 million was deposited into the TSET fund. Under SQ 814, the amount deposited into the TSET fund would be about $18.75 million, and the remainder (about $56.25 million) would be allocated to drawing down federal matching funds for Medicaid.

Kyle Salomon

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