Oklahoma Representative John Talley Explains Upcoming Ballot Measures in Oklahoma
Ponca City Now - February 6, 2023 6:48 am
Oklahoma Representative John Talley-District 33.
This week, I want to overview several things that people may see on their upcoming ballots.
On February 14, voters in Payne County will decide whether to renew the Payne County 3/8-cent sales tax.
This is not a new tax; rather, it’s an extension of a temporary sales tax that was approved by voters in 1994 and has been renewed every five years since.
The dollars provided by the sales tax have funded the Payne County Expo Center, which draws tourism dollars to our area. The funds, which remain within our county, have also provided for updated roads and bridges, county services, fire protection and the Payne County Extension Office.
On Tuesday, February 14, voters will decide whether to renew the 3/8-cent sales tax on five separate propositions, one for each entity that receives the funds.
Proposition 1 is related to highway usage to help maintain roads and bridges. At 53%, this is where the largest portion of the 3/8-cent sales tax goes. In the last five years alone, road improvements and maintenance has received $9.4 million.
Proposition 2 would allot 15% of the sales tax toward general programs. These programs include law enforcement operations and programs like Emergency Management, which allows for assistance or reimbursements from FEMA and other state agencies.
Proposition 3 designates 20% of the 3/8-cent sales tax toward the Payne County Expo Center. The Center hosts events for both community organizations and statewide groups. It’s estimated that more than $5 million is brought in every year from visitors to the Center. Last month, a wrestling tournament at the Expo Center brought several thousand people from neighboring states to our area.
Proposition 4 relates to extension programs. Payne County Extension works with numerous local 4-H clubs, producer groups, horticultural organizations and chambers of commerce to provide educational programs in a variety of areas.
Proposition 5 would designate 5% of the 3/8-cent sales tax for fire protection services. The Payne County fire districts average over 4,000 calls per year. The funds have been used in the past to purchase protection equipment for Payne County’s paid and volunteer firefighters and to purchase tools and trucks for both rural and developed regions of the county.
On March 7, all Oklahomans can vote on State Question 820. A “yes” vote supports legalizing recreational marijuana for adults over the age of 21, whereas a “no” vote opposes legalizing recreational marijuana for adults.
Specifically, a “yes” vote allows adults to possess up to one ounce, or 28.35 grams, of marijuana as well as grow up to six mature marijuana plants and up to six seedlings.
If approved, marijuana sales could be taxed. The text of the measure outlines how tax revenue would be appropriated:
- 30% to the state general fund;
- 30% for grants to public school programs in support of student retention and performance, after-school and enrichment programs, and substance abuse prevention programs;
- 20% to grants for government agencies and not-for-profit organizations to fund drug addiction treatment and overdose prevention programs;
- 10% to the state judicial revolving fund; and
- 10% to the municipalities or counties where the marijuana was sold.
The measure also states that products will be tested, labeled and tracked as part of the seed-to-sale system already in place with medical marijuana. It also maintains employers’ right to run a drug-free workplace and keeps in place penalties for anyone who gives marijuana to someone underage.
I encourage everybody to do their research on the Payne County propositions and State Question 820 and cast their ballots on February 14 and March 7. Some towns across Payne and Logan counties have other measures on their ballots, so before you go to the polls, I recommend you view your sample ballot on the online voter portal at oklahoma.gov/elections/ovp.html to see what else may be on your ballot.
As the legislative session gets underway at the Capitol, please feel free to reach out at [email protected] or (405) 557-7304. Thank you for allowing me to serve House District 33!
Rep. John Talley, a Republican, serves District 33 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which covers Logan and Payne Counties.