Pictured: Charlie Meadows
The next Step on State Question 802
As soon as the Legislature begins in February, they should pass legislation to offer a state question to the voters to repeal SQ802.
For those opposed to State Question 802, the narrow loss was both a heartbreak and an encouraging outcome at the same time. This may not be over yet, let me explain.
When the supporters of expanding Medicaid began their petition drive, they explained that it was needed because the Legislature had failed to do their job – by not enacting the expansion when they had the opportunity to do so without a vote of the people. Truth is, legislators were doing their job by opposing the next phase of ObamaCare – by refusing the next step toward the disaster of full blown socialized medicine.
Therefore, the socialists circulated the petition to amend our State Constitution in order to force expansion by a simple majority vote. The petition had the largest number of signatures ever collected by a petition drive and early polling showed easy passage.
Gov. Stitt promised an alternative, which was somewhat better, but not fundamentally different. That effort fizzled, so SQ802 became the big issue on the ballot. Shortly thereafter, Gov. Stitt wisely put SQ802 on the primary election ballot rather than the general election ballot. As soon as the election date was set, the supporters began running disinformation propaganda ads on TV, radio, and print media. It has been reported that over a million dollars came from groups in California alone to advance this expansion of socialism in Oklahoma.
There were probably more, but at least three organizations in Oklahoma opposed SQ802. We at the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee (OCPAC) started an information campaign in the first email in June and each week thereafter until the election. However, we did not spend, nor did we have money to be used in the effort and to be more effective we need at least five times the number of people on our list than we currently have. The good news is our list is growing rapidly.
I contacted Americans For Prosperity (AFP) to see if they were planning an opposition campaign and was informed they were only able to raise enough for a direct mail campaign. I was informed the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA) was hoping to raise enough for an education campaign, but wasn’t sure of their success.
As it turned out OCPA raised enough for TV ads for a week or so leading up to the election. I believe it was difficult to raise money for the effort for two primary reasons.
Number one, liberals and the “politically correct” crowd have far more money for these efforts than conservatives. This is especially true when you take into consideration how many doctors, hospitals and medical associations mistakenly believe full blown socialized medicine would be better for all involved. In addition, most large corporations are very progressive and think about all the Hollywood and union dollars involved.
Number two, most conservatives believed there was little chance of it being defeated. As evidenced by the people voting for it in every state it had been on the ballot, even in Utah, perhaps a more conservative state than Oklahoma.
With all that said, and even though we were out gunned, a day late and a dollar short, we almost defeated it! Had those opposed to SQ802 raised at least another $100,000 to be on the airways a week earlier, and if Governor Stitt had a better message and could have been more focused on the issue, I am confident we would have defeated it.
Not all is lost. As soon as the Legislature begins in February they should pass legislation to offer a state question to the voters to repeal SQ802. Then, Governor Stitt should set the date for a Special Election to coincide with local city and school board elections to share those costs and save the state money for a statewide election. The election must occur before SQ802 goes into effect on July 1st of 2021. If the timing I just mentioned doesn’t work out, then a Special Session of the Legislature needs to be called.
Of course any of these efforts will be met with shrill voices from the Democrats and socialists screeching about the money spent on a Special Session and a Special Election. Truth is, those costs will be peanuts compared to the hundreds of millions it will take to expand Medicaid and those hundreds of millions that will have to be spent year after year.
Of the 77 counties in Oklahoma, 70 of them voted NO. Even though the supporters of SQ802 said it would save our rural hospitals, rural voters were smart enough to know that would not be the case. In addition 55% of the in person voters voted NO, while 80% of the mail in voters voted yes. That might be explained by two reasons.
Number one, many had already voted before the opposition had educated voters to the other side of the issue. Number two, it would be interesting to know how many mail in ballots were requested for nursing home patients? Any elderly person with a sound mind has a right to vote, but we must be concerned about nursing home staff getting ballots and then offering to help fill them out.
If another vote were to occur, it would be easier to raise money to overturn SQ802 as conservatives would know it could be defeated. In addition, overturning state questions or amendments to our Constitution is not without prior history. Take the State Labor Commissioner office. The citizens have voted to change our Constitution several times to make that an appointed position, only to change it to an elected position, and so on. In fact some are suggesting right now that we vote to make it and several other statewide offices appointed again.
This will largely be determined by the conservatives in the state. Let the Democrats roar and rage like the heathens. Republicans are fully in charge of state government right now, and will be after the November elections. Please let your State Senator and State Representative know your desire on this issue.
Charlie Meadows is the founder and former president of the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee (OCPAC ). He now holds the title of President Emeritus. He may be contacted at: Charliemeadows7@gmail.com