STATISTICS keep getting in the way of Democrats' arguments that voter identification laws place an unfair burden on minorities.
The Census Bureau reported this week that nationally, blacks voted at a higher rate than whites in the 2012 election. It's the first time that's happened since the bureau began tracking voting data by race in 1968. Indeed the number of black and Hispanic voters increased from 2008 to 2012, while the number of non-Hispanic white voters fell, which the bureau said “indicates that the 2012 voting population expansion came primarily from minority voters.”
This news is especially ironic because the administration of Barack Obama, our first black president, spent so much time last year working to roll back voter ID laws. Attorney General Eric Holder even likened some of these laws to the poll taxes of the Jim Crow days.
The census data shouldn't come as a great surprise. In 2008, minority turnout in Georgia and Indiana increased dramatically, as did the turnout of Democrats in general, and those states have the strictest voter ID laws in the country.
Asking for identification at the ballot box is constitutional — so says the U.S. Supreme Court — and as the data shows, it's no more onerous than asking the same to enter a building or board an airplane or write a check.
Et tu, public sector?
Like others, we've noted that Obamacare's insurance mandates, which kick in for employees working 30 hours or more per week, actually encourage businesses to reduce workers' hours, making it harder for people to get ahead financially. It turns out government workers aren't immune from this fiscal reality. The Wall Street Journal reports the city of Brunswick, Ohio, has maxed the hours for about 100 employees at 28 per week. The state of Virginia has started implementing a 29-hour cap for about 37,000 employees, including college adjunct faculty. And the Iowa Association of School Boards reports that some schools even considered a 29-hour weekly max for bus drivers, cooks and student learning aides. Although Sara Redding Wilson, director of the Virginia Department of Human Resource Management, explains this trend succinctly, we suspect many liberals will still be baffled: “Some people don't like it, and I get that, but we couldn't afford it.”
Help for victims
The effectiveness of victim protective orders is debatable — someone intent on harming another isn't likely to be deterred by a piece of paper. On the other hand, a person seeking a VPO shouldn't have to do handstands to get one. A bill signed recently by Gov. Mary Fallin should improve the process. House Bill 1912, by Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, allows a victim to seek a protective order without first filing a criminal or legal complaint against the other person. It also lets courts consider the safety of a victim before setting bond for an alleged violation of a protective order. And it releases victims from having to attend any kind of victim/offender counseling as a requirement of a protective order. “We cannot ignore victims of domestic violence and pretend that the current law is sufficient to protect them; it clearly is not,” Shannon said. He's to be commended for trying to change that.
Hope springs eternal
In a news release this week announcing the election of their leadership team for 2015-2016, state House Democrats noted that Rep. Jeannie McDaniel, D-Tulsa, would be their designee for House Speaker pro tem “should the partisan makeup of the House change after the 2014 elections.” Given that House Democrats are outnumbered 72-29, a dramatic shift of 22 House seats in a single election is required to flip control back to Democrats. Republicans numbers last totaled 29 or fewer in 1984. It took them 20 years to pick up enough additional seats to win control of the House, so the Democrats' one-year goal may be a tad optimistic. Still, recent experience shows dramatic political changes can occur over a relatively short amount of time. Between 2002 and 2012, Republicans gained 24 House seats. This shows that a daunting, long-range political goal isn't necessarily an impossible one.
Brownfield bragging rights
Oklahoma County is being honored for its work retooling the former General Motors assembly plant. District 3 County Commissioner Ray Vaughn got word recently that the county had been chosen the Phoenix Award winner from the Environmental Protection Agency's Region 6. The awards are given around the country for brownfield development. The local project will be honored at a banquet next week in Atlanta, where it'll be in the running for the grand prize or people's choice awards. The state Department of Environmental Quality nominated the local project, which over five years transformed the former GM plant into an engine repair and maintenance facility for the U.S. Department of Defense. Kudos.
Cool to conclusions
This is news that a climate change zealot won't want to hear, but it comes from a climatologist, not a global warming denier: Statewide average temperatures in Oklahoma rank the month as the seventh coolest April since record keeping began in 1895. Temperatures were 4.1 degrees below normal. Several places in the state had record late freezes last month, part of trend that began in mid-February. The first two months of spring were the 12th-coolest on record. We won't extrapolate from this data to support a conclusion that global warming is over or that this will be one of the coolest summers on record. Who knows? In fact, what makes the spring unthaw really stand out is that it came so soon after two horribly hot summers. It would be nice if the zealots wouldn't leap to conclusions based on those summers or last year's Superstorm Sandy or any other weather phenomenon that's cashed in like a lottery ticket to score a political point. Yet that's what they do, over and over. The outlook for May is continued below-normal temps. We predict it will get hot at some point this summer. It probably will not rain on the Fourth of July. No matter how this plays out, we'll try to avoid making any sweeping conclusions about it.
A federal refund
For those who believe Washington will definitely make good on its promise to pay for 90 percent of Medicaid expansion in perpetuity, we have a bridge to nowhere to sell you. Uncle Sam gives and he takes away. Promising to cover 100 percent of Medicaid expansion for three years and 90 percent thereafter could be like so much pie crust — flaky. The U.S. Forest Service is asking a dozen states to return federal revenue-sharing funds used to fight wildfires. Because of sequestration, it “has no alternative” but to ask for a refund, an agency manager said. Before the Federal Aviation Administration got a sequestration reprieve, the University of Oklahoma was poised to assume air traffic controller duties at a Norman airport. Governors resisting Medicaid expansion are worried that Washington won't keep its funding promise. They should be worried that Washington will ask for states to pay for more of existing Medicaid expenses. We again wonder if the states will eventually be asked to bail out the federal government as it continues its Greece-like march toward insolvency.