Oklahoma Constitution Revision Study Commission

1976-1992 (bulk: 1988-1989)

3.5 cubic feet

Oklahoma State Seal


Sketch of the Creator of the Collection

The Oklahoma Constitution Revision Study Commission was formed in September of 1988 by Governor Henry Bellmon and Attorney General Robert Henry. In an attempt to update what many saw as an outdated and unworkable state constitution, the privately funded commission strived both to shorten and to modernize the document. While Robert Henry was officially the chair with Governor Bellmon and David Boren as honorary co-chairs, Nancy J. Davies led the effort by serving as the executive director. Davies was a well-known citizen activist from Enid, Oklahoma, who for over forty years had served on various civic and volunteer organizations in Oklahoma, and who in 1966 became the first woman to sit on the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents.

The diverse group of thirty-five commission members divided themselves into eight committees, each one devoted to a different subject area in the Oklahoma constitution: 1) Ethics in Government and Judicial Branch, 2) Legislative Branch, Separation of Powers and Impeachment, 3) Executive Branch and Separation of Powers, 4) Finance and Revenue, 5) Education and School Land, 6) Bill of Rights, Suffrage and Constitution Amendments, 7) Business and Regulation, and 8) Federal, Local, and Tribal Relations. All of the general meetings were made public, and public forums were held in various locations all over the state to facilitate input and criticism from citizens, businesses, and organizations. Notable among those organizations who contributed greatly to the commission's work were the League of Women Voters of Oklahoma, Common Cause of Oklahoma, and the Metropolitan Tulsa Chamber of Commerce. The commission also received a bulk of letters from concerned individuals regarding the proposed constitutional changes.

After months of work on the part of the committees, the commission decided to put its three most important concerns before a statewide vote as amendments to the Constitution. The three amendments would have made revisions to Article 9 (encouraging state economic development) and Article 6 (reducing government size and allowing the state governor and lieutenant governor to run for election as a team), as well as adding a new Article 29 (creating a constitutional ethics commission). These final three amendments necessitated the formation of the private organization A.C.T.! (Amend Our Constitution Today!), a citizen's committee which gathered the necessary number of petition signatures (175,676) for the three state questions. The first two proposals never made it to a state vote, as they were struck down in a controversial ruling by the Oklahoma Supreme Court for containing too many subjects in each amendment. Voters passed the third amendment (State Question 627) in September of 1990.

Scope and Content of the Collection

The Oklahoma Constitution Revision Study Commission Collection comprises 3.5 cubic feet of documents and audio tapes. It spans the period from 1976-1992, although most documents date from 1988-1989. The collection includes papers from both the commission itself and the citizen's committee, A.C.T.! Documents contained here include press releases, financial reports, legal documents, petitions, constitutional research materials, correspondence between members of the commission, correspondence from interested parties and organizations, drafts of various articles and amendments, minutes from meetings, notes, membership biographies and contact information, newspaper clippings, visual aids for presentations, and audio recordings from many of the meetings and forums. The collection was given to the University of Oklahoma in 1992 by Nancy Davies.

An inventory to this collection is available on this web site. For more information on the archival holdings, please contact the Carl Albert Center.


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