Zachary Knight

Independent for State Representative, District 46

My Endorsements for the November Election

Posted By on November 1, 2010

My endorsements, or voter guide if you may, is pretty simple. Vote Independent in any race there is an Independent and if not, vote Republican. There is however one exception to this rule, the State Superintendent Race.

There is an Independent in the race for State Superintendent. But I have chosen not to support him. My reasoning is that Richard Cooper has expressed his support of SQ744, which I have already determined is bad policy. His Republican opponent, Janet Barresi, does not support SQ 744 and is more likely to support and implement a voucher program for education. For this race, I recommend you vote for Barresi.

Again for all other races that have an Independent on the ballot, vote Independent. For everything else, vote Republican.

For a listing of my recommendations on the State Questions you can reference my State Question Guide. For Non Partisan races, judges for example, I don’t have any specific recommendations. There are a number of handy guides available online to help you learn more about them.

State Question No. 757 – Save it for a Rainy Day

Posted By on October 12, 2010

This question adjusts the amount of state funds that can be put in the Constitutional Reserve Fund also known as the Rainy Day Fund.

This measure amends the State Constitution.  It amends Section 23 of Article 10.  It increases the amount of surplus revenue which goes into a special fund.  That fund is the Constitutional Reserve Fund.  The amount would go from 10% to 15% of the funds certified as going to the General Revenue fund for the preceding fiscal year.

While I support the need to have a savings account for the state in order to have funds available for emergencies, I feel that our current cap of 10% is sufficient. By increasing the amount the state can put away for the future, it decreases the amount the state is required to give back to the tax payer in times of excess.

I feel that the any beyond the current limit of 10% should be returned to the people of Oklahoma.

Vote No

State Question No. 752 – Judicial Nominating Committee

Posted By on October 12, 2010

State Question 752 adds two new members to the Judicial Nominating Committee and changes some requirements for those who are selected as members.

This measure amends a section of the Oklahoma Constitution.  It amends Section 3 of Article 7-B.  The measure deals with the Judicial Nominating Commission.  This Commission selects nominees to be appointed judges or justices, when a vacancy occurs.  The Commission selects three, sometimes four, qualified nominees.  The Governor must appoint one of the nominees. The amendment adds two at-large members to the Commission.  At-large members can come from any Oklahoma congressional district.  The Senate President Pro Tempore appoints one of the new at-large members.  The Speaker of the House of Representatives appoints the other.  At-large members can not be lawyers.  Nor can they have a lawyer in their immediate family.  Nor can more than two at-large members
be from the same political party.

Six non-at-large members are appointed by the Governor.  They cannot be Oklahoma lawyers.  The measure adds a new qualification for non-lawyer members.  They can not have a lawyer from any state in their immediate family.  Each congressional district must have at least one non-lawyer member. Six lawyer members are elected by members of the Oklahoma Bar Association.  Each congressional district must have at least one lawyer member.

I feel that these changes are unnecessary. The committee already consists of 12 members 6 of whom are not selected by the Governor. I feel that this question was drafted in an attempt at preventing conflict of interest, but does not meet those desires.

Additionally, I think that adding new members would simply complicate the process further than it already is.

Vote No

Pirate Party Endorsement

Posted By on October 4, 2010

Today, the Pirate Party of Oklahoma has released their list of candidate endorsements. Out of all people running for office this year, only 26 were willing to respond to their request. Of those 26, only 4 responded with sufficient support for openness in our government to warrant an endorsement.

Zachary Knight is one of those 4.

As a bit of background for the Pirate Party, their “About Us” page describes their platform as follows:

The Pirate Party of Oklahoma is a new political party with the goal of promoting the Privacy Rights of Oklahomans, push for increased Government Transparency, advocate for Ballot Access Reform, and encourage reform of Patents, Copyrights, and Trademarks. We are a member of the United States Pirate Party and are also associated with Pirate Parties International. The Pirate Party of Oklahoma was formed in January of 2010 with the signing of our Constitution.

As for their endorsement, this came based on my responses to a number of questions. These questions ranged from Open Access to government, protection from unwarranted wire tapping and searches and Ballot Access Reform. I have included a few examples below.

This is an endorsement I fully accept and encourage all to read the responses of those who are available on the Pirate Party site and see exactly how these issues affect you as a citizen of this state and nation.

On the issue of automated traffic monitoring systems, ie speed, red-light cameras, and other automated systems for identifying traffic violations:

I lived in Arizona for several years and experienced the automated speed and red light cameras. While I am sure those systems brought in quite a bit of revenue for the contractors who operated them, but not so much for the police departments. What is really worrisome about such systems is their inability to make judgment calls and read context of individual situations. The state should avoid such situations as they would bring on additional burden on the people while not increasing revenue for our underfunded police departments.
On laws preventing citizens from recording on-duty police officers:
Oklahoma is a one party consent state, meaning that only one side of a conversation being recorded whether in audio or video is required to consent to the recording. Any attempt to change those laws would violate our rights and a needed protection for the people. Our police force are public servants and they should be accountable to the people they serve. Retaining our one party consent status would allow the people to protect themselves from corruption and abuse.
On requiring the state legislature to comply with the Open Records Act:
All city, county and school government and agencies are required to comply with the open records act. There is not reason why our Legislative branch should not be held to the exact same standard. In order to hold our legislative members accountable, we need to have an open and accurate record of what they are doing in office. I can see a need to protect correspondence with individuals of a legislator’s constituency, but any correspondence with registered lobbyists, state agencies and other legislators should be open to public scrutiny.
Finally, on Ballot Access Reform:
As an independent, I am affected directly by Oklahoma’s current Ballot Access laws. I have come to realize that yes they are the most restrictive and there is no reason to keep them as is, other than reducing competition for incumbent parties. When elected, I plan on working with other legislators in writing and passing sweeping reform in the state. This will include reducing the required number of signatures to [5000] as it was prior to 1974 and changing ballot access laws to remove language that writes the incumbent parties into law.
To read the full list of questions and Zachary’s responses, you can follow this link.

State Question No. 746: A License to Vote

Posted By on September 27, 2010

State Question 746 seeks to create a identification requirement in order to vote in an election. The Language is as follows:

This measure amends statutes relating to voting requirements.  It requires that each person appearing to vote present a document proving their identity.  The document must meet the following requirements.  It must have the name and photograph of the voter.  It must have been issued by the federal, state or tribal government. It must have an expiration date that is after the date of the election.  No expiration date would be required on certain identity cards issued to persons 65 years of age or older.

In lieu of such a document, voters could present voter identification cards issued by the County Election Board.

A person who cannot or does not present the required identification may sign a sworn statement and cast a provisional ballot.  Swearing to a false statement would be a felony.

These proof of identity requirements also apply to in-person absentee voting.  If adopted by the people, the measure would become effective July 1, 2011.

The US and State Constitutions guarantee the people the right to vote. This question would essentially force the people to pay for a license to exercise their Constitutional right. We would not stand idly by if were were forced to get a license to exercise our rights to Free Speech, Religion and Assembly. Why should we be willing to be forced to obtain a license to vote?

Additionally, I feel that this is a solution in search of a problem. There has been no documented case of voter fraud that this question would prevent. On top of the lack of an actual problem, this question would put an undue burden on people who do not normally carry identification. These people who tend to be elderly or poor would be less likely to vote if this requirement went into effect.

Vote No on SQ 746

State Question No. 755: One Law to Rule By

Posted By on September 27, 2010

State Question 755 would require that Oklahoma courts only use State and Federal law when ruling on cases based in Oklahoma. The language is as follows:

This measure amends the State Constitution.  It changes a section that deals with the courts of this state.  It would amend Article 7, Section 1.  It makes courts rely on federal and state law when deciding cases.  It forbids courts from considering or using international law.  It forbids courts from considering or using Sharia Law.

International law is also known as the law of nations.  It deals with the conduct of international organizations and independent nations, such as countries, states and tribes.  It deals with their relationship with each other. It also deals with some of their relationships with persons.

The law of nations is formed by the general assent of civilized nations.  Sources of international law also include international agreements, as well as treaties.

Sharia Law is Islamic law.  It is based on two principal sources, the Koran and the teaching of Mohammed.

There is some precedence in the US in that US courts have ruled in cases based on laws from outside the US. As such I think it is good that we are taking efforts to encode our sovereignty further. We should not be using international law unless such laws are created and passed in either the state or federal government.

Vote Yes on SQ 755

State Question No. 751: A Unified Language

Posted By on September 27, 2010

State Question 751 seeks to make English the official language of Oklahoma. The Language is as follows:

This measure amends the State Constitution.  It adds a new Article to the Constitution.  That Article deals with the State’s official actions.  It dictates the language to be used in taking official State action.  It requires that official State actions be in English.  Native American languages could also be used.  When Federal law requires, other languages could also be used.

These language requirements apply to the State’s “official actions.”  The term “official actions” is not defined. The Legislature could pass laws determining the application of the language requirements.  The Legislature would also pass laws implementing and enforcing the language requirements.

No lawsuit based on State law could be brought on the basis of a State agency’s failure to use a language other than English.  Nor could such a lawsuit be brought against political subdivisions of the State.

This question would make all official State business to be only conducted in English and Native American languages. This means that official business with the state cannot be conducted in languages such as Spanish or French.

This question could have some budget saving implications in that printed material from the state will only be printed in select languages. This will also help to increase productivity in our government processes.

There are concerns that this is a targeted measure against illegal immigration from Mexico, but I do not feel that this will negatively affect legal immigration from outside the US. Legal immigrants recognize the need to learn and speak the native language spoken in the US and will make efforts to do business in English.

Vote Yes on SQ 751

State Question No. 754: Appropriations and Formulas (UPDATED)

Posted By on September 27, 2010

State Question 754 would limit the legislature in how they make appropriations in the budget and is in direct conflict with SQ 744. The language is as follows:

This measure adds a new section to the Oklahoma Constitution.  It adds Section 55A to Article 5.  The Legislature designates amounts of money to be used for certain functions.  These designations are called appropriations.  The measure deals with the appropriation process. The measure limits how the Constitution could control that process.  Under the measure the Constitution could not require the Legislature to fund state functions based on:

1. Predetermined constitutional formulas,
2. How much other states spend on a function,
3. How much any entity spends on a function.

Under the measure these limits on the Constitution’s power to control appropriations would apply even if:

1. A later constitutional amendment changed the Constitution, or
2. A constitutional amendment to the contrary was passed at the same time as this measure.

Thus, under the measure, once adopted, the measure could not be effectively amended.  Nor could it be repealed.

Under this question the state cannot make budget appropriations based on formulas that determine how much money other states and entities spend their money. This conflicts with SQ 744 in that SQ 744 would base common education spending on the average spent in neighboring states. If both were to pass, SQ 754 is written to supersede SQ 744.

I feel strongly that any budget appropriations should be based on need and available spending. We should not be basing spending on influences outside the control of the state government.

UPDATE – I have given some more thought to this question. I have decided that I do not like the language of the second half of the question that would prevent further legislation or amendments from superseding this question. I think there may be times when a formula can be used to best meet the needs of an agency or project. This would also prevent the state government from implementing formula based pay for state offices such as paying state legislators based on the average income of the people of the state.

Considering these things, I have decided that I will be voting against this question.

Vote No on SQ 754

State Question No. 756: Insurance Mandates

Posted By on September 27, 2010

State Question 756 seeks to nullify the recently passed Federal Health Care Overhaul’s insurance mandate language. It seeks to prohibit the Federal Government from mandating individuals buy insurance. The language is as follows:

This measure adds a new section of law to the State Constitution.  It adds Section 37 to Article 2.  It defines “health care system.”  It prohibits making a person participate in a health care system.  It prohibits making an employer participate in a health care system.  It prohibits making a health care provider provide treatment in a health care system.  It allows persons and employees to pay for treatment directly.  It allows a health care provider to accept payment for treatment directly.  It allows the purchase of health care insurance in private health care systems.  It allows the sale of health insurance in private health care systems.

The measure’s effect is limited.  It would not affect any law or rule in effect as of January 1, 2010. Nor could the measure affect or negate all federal laws or rules.  The United States Constitution has a Supremacy Clause.  That clause makes federal law the supreme law of the land.  Under that clause Congress has the power to preempt state law.  When Congress intends to preempt state law, federal law controls.  When Congress intends it, constitutionally enacted federal law would preempt some or all of the proposed measure.

I feel that the Federal Government has overstepped their bounds in mandating that everyone buy insurance. The language of the mandate unfairly burdens the people of the United States and specifically Oklahoma. This mandate punishes those who choose not to buy insurance as well as those who seek to buy the best they can afford. The Federal Government has no constitutional right to force this purchase on the people of individual states.

Vote Yes on SQ 756

State Question No. 747: Term Limits

Posted By on September 27, 2010

State Question 747 creates term limits for all state wide elected officials. The language is as follows:

This measure amends sections 4 and 23 of Articles 6 and section 15 of Article 9 of the State Constitution.

It limits the ability of voters to re-elect statewide elected officers by limiting how many years those officers can serve.  It limits the number of years a person may serve in each statewide elected office.  Service as Governor is limited to eight years.  Service as Lieutenant Governor is limited to eight years.  Service as Attorney General is limited to eight years.  Service as Treasurer is limited to eight years.  Service as Commissioner of Labor is limited to eight years.  Service as Auditor and Inspector is limited to eight years. Service as Superintendent of Public Instruction is limited to eight years.  Service as Insurance Commissioner is limited to eight years.  Service as a Corporation Commissioner is limited to twelve years. Service for less than a full term would not count against the limit on service.  Years of service need not be consecutive for the limits to apply. Officers serving when this measure is passed can complete their terms.  All such serving officers, except the Governor, can also serve an additional eight or twelve years.

I support this measure. I believe that all elected officials should serve limited terms in office. I believe that instituting term limits in the legislature was one of the best things done for our state government in a long time.

This coupled with limits on lobbyist spending is a strong influence in preserving ethics in our government and elected officials. creating term limits also limits the ability of politicians from becoming “career politicians” who care for nothing other than getting reelected. If politicians know they will only be serving a limited time, they will work harder to pass legislation and policies that benefit the people they represent.

Vote Yes on SQ 747