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Oklahoma Apportionment Commission Measure, State Question 748 (2010)

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See also: Redistricting in Oklahoma
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The Oklahoma Apportionment Commission Measure, State Question 748 was on the November 2, 2010 state ballot in Oklahoma as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment where it was approved. Approveda

The ballot measure proposed to reform the existing commission. The commission was comprised of the state Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Attorney General and state Treasurer, however, the new panel would be made up of three Democrats and three Republicans. The governor, Speaker of the House and President Pro Tem of the Senate each would appoint one Republican and one Democrat. Additionally, the Lieutenant Governor would serve as a non-voting member and chair of the commission.[1]

The panel's duties included drawing new legislative district lines if the Oklahoma Legislature was unable to reach a compromise following, for example, the 2010 U.S. census.[2]

Oklahoma Senate Joint Resolution 25 (2009) was the sponsoring legislation that led to State Question 748 being approved for a statewide vote. SJR 25 was sponsored by Republican state representative Chris Benge and Republican state senator Glenn Coffee. The Republican Party was the majority party in both the Oklahoma State Senate and the Oklahoma House of Representatives and the vote to enact SJR 25 was primarily along party lines.

Legislative and congressional redistricting would take place in every state in the wake of the 2010 federal census. Ballot questions about redistricting were on the ballot not just in Oklahoma, but also in California (Proposition 20 and Proposition 27) and Florida (Amendment 5 and Amendment 6).

Aftermath

Clark Duffe, vice-chairman of the Oklahoma Libertarian Party, filed a lawsuit on January 24, 2011 with the Oklahoma Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the measure. The former independent candidate for the 5th Congressional District requested that the court reject the measure. Before the question was placed on the ballot and approved, the commission was comprised of three members: the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Attorney General and state Treasurer. With the approval of the measure, the commission increased to seven members: three Democrats, three Republicans and the Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma acting as the non-voting chairman of the commission. This, according to reports, is where Duffe took issue with the effects of the measure, stating that it discriminates against independents. According to the lawsuit, "The voting class is recognized to include Democrat voters, Republican voters and independent voters. When one or more of the class is given more rights than the other class members or one or more of the class is discriminated against then the U.S. Constitution, due process of law and equal protection of law are violated."[3]

Election results

See also: 2010 ballot measure election results

Official results of the measure follow:

Question 748 (Reapportionment Commission)
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 567,288 58.42%
No403,73341.58%

Results via the Oklahoma Election Board.

Text of amendment

Ballot title

The ballot title that Oklahoma voters saw on the ballot read:[4]

This measure amends Sections 11A and 11B of Article 5 of the Oklahoma Constitution. These provisions deal with how the Legislature is divided into districts. This process is known as apportionment. The Legislature must make an apportionment after each ten-year federal census. If the Legislature fails to act, an Apportionment Commission must do so. The measure changes the name of this Commission. It removes all three existing Commission members. It removes the Attorney General. It removes the Superintendent of Public Instruction. It also removes the State Treasurer.

The measure increases the number of members from three to seven. The President Pro Tempore of the Senate appoints one Democrat and one Republican. The Speaker of the House of Representatives appoints one Democrat and one Republican. The Governor appoints one Democrat and one Republican.

The measure provides that the Lieutenant Governor chairs the Commission and is a nonvoting member. It requires orders of apportionment to be signed by at least four members of the Commission.

Shall the proposal be approved?

For the proposal

Yes: __________

Against the proposal

No: __________

Summary

The summary of the amendment read:[5]

This measure amends Sections 11A and 11B of Article 5 of the Oklahoma Constitution. These provisions deal with how the Legislature is divided into districts. This process is known as apportionment. The Legislature must make an apportionment after each ten-year federal census. If the Legislature fails to act, an Apportionment Commission must do so. The measure changes the name of this Commission. It removes all three existing Commission members. It removes the Attorney General. It removes the Superintendent of Public Instruction. It also removes the State Treasurer.
The measure increases the number of members from three to seven. The President Pro Tempore of the Senate appoints one Democrat and on Republican. The Speaker of the House of Representatives appoints one Democrat and one Republican. The Governor appoints one Democrat and one Republican.
The measure provides that the Lieutenant Governor chairs the Commission and is a nonvoting member. It requires orders of apportionment to be signed by at least four members of the Commission

Constitutional changes

Oklahoma State Question 748, Constitutional text changes

According to the Oklahoma Secretary of State, the measure was proposed to amend Article V, Sections 11a and 11b.[5]

Support

Supporters

Arguments

Coffee argued about the measure: "It just modernizes what the (state) constitution originally intended to do. The way the constitution is currently drafted, it arbitrarily picks three statewide officers to draw the lines if the Legislature and the governor can't agree. Under the current configuration, all three of those officeholders are of the same party."[6]

Opposition

Opponents

Arguments

  • Morgan argued against the measure, stating, "If it's not broke, why are we trying to fix it? If it is in fact broke, we need an independent council that is appointed, particularly by having some justices involved...want people who have no vested interest in it. We don't mind changing the system; we just don't think that this is actually going to be an independent commission because of the people who make the appointments."[6]
  • Kiesel argued about the measure: ."..it's still injecting a greater amount of legislative voice into the reapportionment process even after you can't get an agreement. What really needs to happen is we need to take it out of the Legislature entirely and have a nonpartisan commission drawing the lines."<argue/>

Media endorsements

See also: Endorsements of Oklahoma ballot measures, 2010

Support

  • The Enid News and Eagle recommended a 'yes' vote on the measure, stating, "The apportionment commission only is called into action if the Legislature can’t settle the matter of drawing up legislative districts. Even if that is unlikely to happen, we don’t see the harm in adding new bipartisan members to the commission"[7]
  • The Tulsa Beacon made recommendations for all the state questions on the ballot, and recommended a 'yes' vote on the measure.[8]

Opposition

  • The Oklahoman recommended a 'no' vote on the measure, stating "In the state's history, the apportionment commission made up of the state attorney general, schools superintendent and treasurer has never been needed to draw up legislative districts. The commission is only called into action if the Legislature can't settle the matter. That's never happened."[9]
  • The Tulsa World was against the measure, recommending a 'no' vote: "The committee, which would redraw state legislative districts if the Legislature fails to do so within a constitutionally mandated time, has never met in state history. This is a pointless referendum, and it should be rejected."[10]

Polls

See also: Polls, 2010 ballot measures
  • In one of the last polls taken by SoonerPoll before the general election, the results showed a split by those surveyed. The poll included 384 Democrats, 345 Republicans and 24 independents.[11]
Legend

     Position is ahead and at or over 50%     Position is ahead or tied, but under 50%

Date of Poll Pollster In favor Opposed Undecided Number polled
October 18-23, 2010 SoonerPoll.com 34% 29% 36% 621

Path to the ballot

See also: Amending the Oklahoma Constitution
Redistricting on the ballot in 2010
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Republican state representative Chris Benge and Republican state senator Glenn Coffee were the sponsors of Oklahoma Senate Joint Resolution (SJR 25, 2009), which is the number and title of the enabling legislation that resulted in SQ 748 advancing to Oklahoma's statewide ballot in 2010.

The Republican Party is the majority party in both the Oklahoma State Senate and the Oklahoma House of Representatives. The vote to enact SJR 25 was primarily along party lines.

SJR 25 timeline:

  • 2/2/2009: First Reading
  • 2/2/2009: Authored by Senator Glenn Coffee
  • 2/3/2009: Second Reading referred to Rules
  • 2/17/2009: Reported Do Pass, amended by committee substitute Rules committee; pending CR
  • 2/23/2009: Pending authorship Representative(s) Chris Benge
  • 2/24/2009: Reported Do Pass, amended by committee substitute Rules committee; CR filed
  • 2/24/2009: Coauthored by Benge (principal House author)
  • 3/10/2009: General Order, Considered
  • 3/10/2009: Measure passed the Oklahoma State Senate, Yes: 25, No: 21
  • 3/10/2009: Referred for engrossment
  • 3/11/2009: Engrossed to House
  • 3/11/2009: First Reading
  • 3/18/2009: Second Reading referred to Rules
  • 3/26/2009: CR; Do Pass Rules Committee
  • 4/21/2009: General Order
  • 4/21/2009: Third Reading, Measure passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives: Yes: 59, No: 38
  • 4/21/2009: Signed, returned to Senate
  • 4/21/2009: Referred for enrollment
  • 4/22/2009: Enrolled, to House
  • 4/22/2009: Signed, returned to Senate
  • 4/22/2009: Filed with Secretary of State

The Oklahoma State Legislature can approve a proposed amendment by a majority vote. (However, if the state legislature wants the proposed amendment to go on a special election ballot, it has to approve the amendment by a 2/3rds vote.) Oklahoma is one of ten states that allows a referred amendment to go on the ballot after a majority vote in one session of the state's legislature.

The partisan composition of the Oklahoma State Senate and the partisan composition of the Oklahoma State House favored the Republican Party at the time the SJR 25 was approved by the Oklahoma State Legislature. The partisan composition of the chambers at this time is:

Party As of April 2014
     Democratic Party 12
     Republican Party 36
Total 48
Party As of April 2014
     Democratic Party 29
     Republican Party 72
Total 101

See also

External links

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