S.Q. 793 narrowly defeated, legislative push for eye care choice still anticipated

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Question 793, the ballot initiative that would have expanded eye care choices in the Sooner State, was narrowly defeated Tuesday (November 6). 
In final but unofficial results, supporters had garnered 579, 741 votes (49.8 percent of the total) to 585,355 (50.2 percent) for the opponents.   

An offiicial with the state’s largest free-market think tank send a statement to CapitolBeatOK about the outcome on Tuesday evening. Trent England, executive vice president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA), reflected:
“The campaign against State Question 793 was a scare campaign that worked. To protect their profits, a special interest convinced Oklahomans that a few more choices for eyecare would be dangerous.
“Having lived in states where you can get an eye exam and a pair of glasses at Costco, I can say that the result here is a real tragedy, especially for Oklahomans in rural and underserved parts of our state.”

Joshua Harlow, a spokesman for the Yes on 793 campaign, commented, “While we are disappointed in tonight’s outcome, we are excited that we have brought this to the attention of voters. Even the most vocal of opponents have repeatedly indicated they have no problem with the basic concepts of allowing these functions in retail settings, but were just opposed to the Constitutional nature and one specific line. We are ready to remove that line and seek a legislative remedy for those Oklahoma families who desire additional choices.” 

In comments sent to CapitolBeatOK, opponents of the measure expressed delight with the result. 
Dr. Jason Ellen, president of the Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians (OAOP), asserted the defeat for the only ballot initiative on the 2018 general election ballot “had everything to do with corporate control. You cannot elevate profits above patient health and practice good medicine. Voters understood that and decided that lowering the standard of care in medicine could directly harm their health and the health of their loved ones.”

OAOP’s Executive Director Joel Robison said the membership of the trade association deserved credit for the result: “Optometrists in Oklahoma should congratulate themselves on a lot of successful grassroots work and organization. More than anything, they should congratulate themselves for having the courage to stand up to one of the largest corporations in the world and speak the truth.” 

During the campaign and in their victory statements, OAOP leadership repeatedly blasted Wal-Mart, one of several retailers likely to have expanded eye care choices in the Sooner State if S.Q. 793 had prevailed.