Oklahoma Constitutional Conventions
Despite Oklahoma’s Constitution mandating that the Legislature place a constitutional convention referendum on its ballot at least once every twenty years, the Legislature has not done so since 1970.
Constitutional Amendment Section
of Oklahoma’s Constitution
Color Code: Highlights in red; Majority requirements in bold.
Section XXIV-1: Amendments proposed by Legislature – Submission to vote.
Any amendment or amendments to this Constitution may be proposed in either branch of the Legislature, and if the same shall be agreed to by a majority of all the members elected to each of the two (2) houses, such proposed amendment or amendments shall, with the yeas and nays thereon, be entered in their journals and referred by the Secretary of State to the people for their approval or rejection, at the next regular general election, except when the Legislature, by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of each house, shall order a special election for that purpose. If a majority of all the electors voting on any proposed amendment at such election shall vote in favor thereof, it shall thereby become a part of this Constitution.
No proposal for the amendment or alteration of this Constitution which is submitted to the voters shall embrace more than one general subject and the voters shall vote separately for or against each proposal submitted; provided, however, that in the submission of proposals for the amendment of this Constitution by articles, which embrace one general subject, each proposed article shall be deemed a single proposal or proposition.
Section XXIV-2: Constitutional convention to propose amendments or new constitution.
No convention shall be called by the Legislature to propose alterations, revisions, or amendments to this Constitution, or to propose a new Constitution, unless the law providing for such convention shall first be approved by the people on a referendum vote at a regular or special election, and any amendments, alterations, revisions, or new Constitution, proposed by such convention, shall be submitted to the electors of the State at a general or special election and be approved by a majority of the electors voting thereon, before the same shall become effective: Provided, That the question of such proposed convention shall be submitted to the people at least once in every twenty years.
Section XXIV-3: Right of amendment by initiative petition not impaired.
This article shall not impair the right of the people to amend this Constitution by a vote upon an initiative petition therefor.
Section V-2: Designation and definition of reserved powers – Determination of percentages.
The first power reserved by the people is the initiative, and
eight per centum of the legal voters shall have the right to
propose any legislative measure, and fifteen per centum of the
legal voters shall have the right to propose amendments to the
Constitution by petition, and every such petition shall include
the full text of the measure so proposed. The second power is
the referendum, and it may be ordered (except as to laws
necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace,
health, or safety), either by petition signed by five per centum
of the legal voters or by the Legislature as other bills are
enacted. The ratio and per centum of legal voters hereinbefore
stated shall be based upon the total number of votes cast at the
last general election for the State office receiving the highest
number of votes at such election.
Section V-3: Petitions – Veto power – Elections – Time of taking effect – Style of bills – Duty of legislature.
Referendum petitions shall be filed with the Secretary of State
not more than ninety (90) days after the final adjournment of the
session of the Legislature which passed the bill on which the
referendum is demanded. The veto power of the Governor shall not
extend to measures voted on by the people. All elections on
measures referred to the people of the state shall be had at the
next election held throughout the state, except when the
Legislature or the Governor shall order a special election for
the express purpose of making such reference. Any measure
referred to the people by the initiative or referendum shall take
effect and be in force when it shall have been approved by a
majority of the votes cast thereon and not otherwise.
The style of all bills shall be: “Be it Enacted By the People
of the State of Oklahoma.”
Petitions and orders for the initiative and for the referendum
shall be filed with the Secretary of State and addressed to the
Governor of the state, who shall submit the same to the people.
The Legislature shall make suitable provisions for carrying into
effect the provisions of this article.
Section V-4: Referendum against part of act.
The referendum may be demanded by the people against one or
more items, sections, or parts of any act of the Legislature in
the same manner in which such power may be exercised against a
complete act. The filing of a referendum petition against one or
more items, sections, or parts of an act shall not delay the
remainder of such act from becoming operative.
Section V-5: Reservation of powers to voters of counties and districts – Manner of exercising.
The powers of the initiative and referendum reserved to the
people by this Constitution for the State at large, are hereby
further reserved to the legal voters of every county and district
therein, as to all local legislation, or action, in the
administration of county and district government in and for their
respective counties and districts. The manner of exercising said
powers shall be prescribed by general laws, except that Boards of
County Commissioners may provide for the time of exercising the
initiative and referendum powers as to local legislation in their
respective counties and districts.
The requisite number of petitioners for the invocation of the
initiative and referendum in counties and districts shall bear
twice, or double, the ratio to the whole number of legal voters
in such county or district, as herein provided therefor in the
State at large.
Section V-6: Subsequent proposal of rejected measure.
Any measure rejected by the people, through the powers of the
initiative and referendum, cannot be again proposed by the
initiative within three years thereafter by less than twenty-five
per centum of the legal voters.
Section V-7: Powers of Legislature not affected.
The reservation of the powers of the initiative and referendum
in this article shall not deprive the Legislature of the right to
repeal any law, propose or pass any measure, which may be
consistent with the Constitution of the State and the
Constitution of the United States.
BILL OF RIGHTS
Section II-1: Political power – Purpose of government – Alteration or reformation.
All political power is inherent in the people; and government
is instituted for their protection, security, and benefit, and to
promote their general welfare; and they have the right to alter
or reform the same whenever the public good may require it:
Provided, such change be not repugnant to the Constitution of the
Section II-2: Inherent rights.
All persons have the inherent right to life, liberty, the
pursuit of happiness, and the enjoyment of the gains of their own
Source: Oklahoma Constitution
2020 Legislative Session: Senate Joint Resolution 31. Constitutional Amendment: Proposing a Constitutional Convention to propose amendments to the Oklahoma Constitution. Bill Summary: SJR 31 refers to the people a resolution that directs the Legislature to call a Constitutional Convention. On May 14, 2020 the bill was withdrawn by striking the 1) Title, 2) the Enacting Clause, 3) the entire bill, and 4) inserting in lieu thereof a totally irrelevant resolution which was defeated the following day, May 15, 2020, with 4 ayes and 41 nays.
2014 Legislative Session: House Joint Resolution 1082.
2008 Legislative Session. Committee Substitute for House Joint Resolution No. 1080.
DelCour, Julie, 50 years past the scandal: Remind us again why we had judicial reform, Tulsa World, March 8, 2015.
“Oklahoma House passes constitutional convention resolution, News9.com, March 4, 2015.
HJR 1020 can be found here. Oklahoma House panel approves public vote on three issues, The Ada News, February 18, 2015.
Okla lawmakers seek changes in state and U.S. Constitutions, Fox23.com, February 3, 2015.
“Okla. House passes constitutional convention bill,” NewsChannel10.com, March 12, 2014.
Cooper, Skyler, Lawmakers pass constitutional convention bill; Bill passed the House, moves to Senate for consideration, KRMG, March 12, 2014.
State of Oklahoma, House Joint Resolution 1082, 2nd Session of the 54th Legislature (2014).
Greiner, John, Measure Would Repeal Convention Requirement, The Oklahoman, April 25, 1993
Quinlan, Casey, What all the states where teachers are striking have in common, Think Progress, April 6, 2018. Labor championed Oklahoma’s first constitutional convention.
Blatt, David, Repairing Oklahoma’s Broken Democracy, Oklahoma Policy Institute, December 16, 2014.