In re State Question No. 805 Initiative Petition No. 421, 052620 OKSC, 118774

Docket Nº118774
Party NameIN RE: STATE QUESTION NO. 805 INITIATIVE PETITION NO. 421 THEODIS MANNING and GENE RAINBOLT, Petitioners/Proponents, v. MICHAEL ROGERS, OKLAHOMA SECRETARY OF STATE, in his Official Capacity, Respondent.
Judge PanelGurich, C.J., Darby, V.C.J., Kauger, Edmondson, Combs, JJ., concur; Kane and Rowe, JJ., dissent; Winchester, J., not voting; Colbert, J., not participating.
Case DateMay 26, 2020
CourtSupreme Court of Oklahoma

2020 OK 45

IN RE: STATE QUESTION NO. 805 INITIATIVE PETITION NO. 421

THEODIS MANNING and GENE RAINBOLT, Petitioners/Proponents,

v.

MICHAEL ROGERS, OKLAHOMA SECRETARY OF STATE, in his Official Capacity, Respondent.

No. 118774

Supreme Court of Oklahoma

May 26, 2020

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

ORDER

¶1 Original jurisdiction is assumed. Fent v. Contingency Review Bd., 2007 OK 27, ¶11, 163 P.3d 512 (the Court may assume jurisdiction in a publici juris controversy where there is an urgency and need for a judicial determination). The extraordinary relief sought by Proponents of Initiative Petition 421, State Question 805 is granted.

¶2 Okla. Const. Art. 5, § 2 provides that the first power reserved by the people is the initiative. Respondent's integral role and non-discretionary duties with respect to the initiative process are plainly set forth in the Constitution. Under Okla. Const. Art. 5, § 3, initiative petitions "shall be filed with the Secretary of State." See also Okla. Const. Art. 5, § 4. When initiative petitions submitting a proposed measure to the people for their ratification or rejection are offered to the Secretary of State for filing, "it is his duty to file same." Threadgill v. Cross, 1910 OK 165, ¶5, 109 P. 558, distinguished on other grounds by In re Initiative Petition No. 349, State Question No. 642, 1992 OK 122, 838 P.2d 1 (noting there is no controversy about the nature of this duty and there can be none).

¶3 Pursuant to 34 O.S.Supp. 2015, § 8 (G), proponents of a referendum or initiative petition may terminate the circulation period any time during said period by certifying to the Secretary of State (1) the petitions have been filed with the Secretary of State, (2) no petitions are in circulation, and (3) proponents will not circulate any more petitions. Proponents have tendered for filing the signed petitions in the instant cause. Therefore, pursuant to the text of the statute, Respondent "shall begin the counting process." Id.

¶4 While the signature-gathering deadline was temporarily halted, or tolled, by Respondent on March 18, 2020, with the approval of the Governor under the latter's emergency powers pursuant to the statewide COVID-19 emergency, this does not alter Proponent's statutory rights under 34 O.S.Supp. 2015, § 8 (G). The circulation period began, but it has not ended, and thus we are still within the circulation period. In re Initiative...

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