Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

State Supreme Court Invalidates Petitions

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

State Supreme Court Invalidates Petitions

Article excerpt

Two out of three initiative petitions to revise three articles of the Oklahoma Constitution - strongly supported by Gov. Henry Bellmon - were invalidated Tuesday by the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

The court invalidated petitions that sought to amend the corporate and executive articles of the constitution, but it let stand a petition that would create a constitutional ethics commission.

The petitions called for state questions to ask voters to amend the constitution. The sole petition to pass court muster could go to a popular vote following a required 60-day waiting period, said Andrew Tevington, chief of staff and legal counsel to Bellmon.

Bellmon said he asked the attorneys who represented the group Amend Our Constitution Today (ACT), which circulated the petitions, to seek a rehearing to "explain the gravity of the rulings to the court."

The proposed articles were the product of a study group convened by Bellmon to research and recommend changes in the state constitution.

One rejected petition proposed an article that would strengthen the executive branch of government. The governor and lieutenant governor would be elected as a team.

The governor would be required to present a reorganization plan for the executive branch to the Oklahoma Legislature. Existing agencies, boards and commissions would be assigned to cabinet departments.

The other petition invalidated by the court would have revised the corporate Article 9 by drastically shortening it, putting a number of provisions into statutory law instead.

The petition that was allowed to stand would ask voters to approve the creation of a five-member Oklahoma Ethics Commission, which would promulgate rules for elective campaigns for state office, initiatives and referenda.

It would also make rules for ethical conduct of state officers and employees, and civil penalties for violation of the rules. …

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