• Oklahoma Capitol Boxscore

    By RICK M. GREEN Capitol Bureau rmgreen@oklahoman.com | Published: Sun, Oct 4, 2015

    Bill would allow retired teachers to earn more outside income State Rep. Claudia Griffith has a bill that would increase by $10,000 the amount of outside income a retired educator could earn and still draw a state pension. Under existing state law, a teacher who retires from a public school system can earn up to $15,000 from a school or school district during the first three years after retiring and still receive full pension benefits from the Oklahoma Teachers Retirement System.  House Bill 1364, by Griffith, D-Norman, would boost that amount to $25,000. Rep. Randy McDaniel, R-Edmond, has a measure, House Bill 1061, that would raise the threshold on a teacher's earnings by $3,000, to $18,000.

  • Your Views

    Published: Sun, Oct 4, 2015

    Follow Colorado's lead Regarding “Legalized marijuana certainly no panacea” (Our Views, Sept. 29): It's cherry-picking to point out the increase in automobile fatalities from 2010 to 2014. The increase is 411 deaths in 2010 to 451 in 2014. What is left out is that the number of fatalities in 2010 and 2011 in Colorado were the lowest since 2002, when the death toll on Rocky Mountain roadways approached 700. The next tactic is to state the obvious, by pointing out that daily users are buying more marijuana than anyone else. That's trivia, not an argument. Then it's time to proceed to drawing the wrong conclusions by being alarmist about the increase in hospitalization related to marijuana. All this shows is that now that it's

  • Investors need diversification to shrink risks in stock market

    By TOM PHILLIPS For The Oklahoman | Published: Sun, Oct 4, 2015

    In the past eight years, and amid a recession, Netflix stock soared more than 3,000 percent to last week's close at $102.24. Don't you wish you had put your life savings into this winner? About the time Netflix was taking off, the bluest of blue chips, General Motors, was going under, dropping from $40 in late 2007 to 75 cents in May 2009. The following month the company was bankrupt and shareholders had nothing. Aren't you glad you didn't invest your life savings there? Although a bit extreme, these two stories represent the rewards and risks of investing in the stock market. While the rewards taste sweet, it's the bitter taste from risk that can keep us awake at night. So how can we minimize the risk while maintaining

  • Halliburton offers settlements to property owners in lawsuits

    By Brianna Bailey Business Writer  bbailey@oklahoman.com | Published: Sun, Oct 4, 2015

    DUNCAN — Some four years after testing found pollution from spent rocket fuel in the groundwater, Halliburton is offering settlements to about 130 property owners after the chemical compound ammonium perchlorate showed up in their private wells.  As an October trial date neared for one of the largest lawsuits against Halliburton, the company began settling with many Duncan residents this summer, records show. According to documents filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, Halliburton has offered settlements to 130 plaintiffs involving more than 80 properties in Duncan. Halliburton declined to comment on the settlements because several lawsuits are still ongoing, the company said

  • Online voter registration system still far from reality

    By RANDY KREHBIEL Tulsa World randy.krehbiel@tulsaworld.com | Published: Sun, Oct 4, 2015

    Oklahoma's online voter registration law becomes effective Nov. 1, but that doesn't mean the system will be operational any time soon. “Nov. 1 does not mean it will be up and running,” said state election board spokesman Bryan Dean. “It's when we're authorized to officially begin working on it.” This may come as a disappointing surprise to those planning registration drives incorporating online technology, but state Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, said it shouldn't be. “We've been clear all along that this would take some time,” said Holt, the Legislature's leading proponent of online registration. “The hope has always been for it to be ready by the 2016 general election.

  • Education tax increase would cost average family $252, study finds

    By Warren Vieth Oklahoma Watch | Published: Sun, Oct 4, 2015

    A proposed penny sales tax increase would cost medium-income Oklahomans about $262 a year and raise $608 million annually to finance public schools and higher education, a new data analysis shows.  The bottom 20 percent of Oklahoman households would chip in $90 a year, the top 1 percent would pay $1,691, the study says.   As a percentage of income, though, the tax would fall hardest on the poor. That's because they spend a bigger portion of their income on retail purchases.  The analysis was prepared in recent days by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a Washington, D.C., research organization. It was requested by the Oklahoma Policy Institute, a Tulsa-based group that supports higher levels of funding

  • Other states have implemented similar tax

    By Nate Robson Oklahoma Watch | Published: Sun, Oct 4, 2015

    Several states have proposed or approved sales tax increases to support education similar to a proposal in the works in Oklahoma, and the results have varied. In some cases, the sales tax hikes have remained in place for years, expanding or preserving education spending. In another case, a tax hike was repealed by voters, and a second tax ran into legal trouble. Iowa, Arizona, Idaho, Florida and Georgia are among the states that implemented sales tax increases similar to the one proposed by University of Oklahoma President David Boren. That plan, which would go to voters in 2016, would increase Oklahoma's sales tax by one penny on the dollar and could raise more than $600 million. Most of that would be used to give

  • Tactics of state abortion law challenge paint ugly picture

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Oct 4, 2015

    YOU almost have to admire the nerve of the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights. The organization is claiming its own inaction and months of delay now justify Oklahoma courts rushing to decide a last-minute challenge to a state abortion law. This year, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 642, which made four major changes to state abortion law. Under current law, parental consent is required for a minor to get an abortion, with some exemptions. SB 642 adds teeth to that law by specifying a nonguardian adult who obtains an abortion for a minor in violation of the consent law (or a doctor who violates that law) can be held civilly liable and subject to damages.

  • Strong message sent with recent budget hearing

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Oct 4, 2015

    THE 2016 legislative session doesn't begin until February, and a state budget plan probably won't emerge until May. So it's notable — extraordinary, really — that state lawmakers met with agency directors in September to send a blunt message: Don't ask for more money. Budget leaders recently met with agency heads and told them, in a nutshell, “to turn in flat budget requests, expect cuts and plan accordingly,” according to one report. That may not make agency officials happy, but this effort should encourage taxpayers. It shows state lawmakers are taking their jobs seriously, and aren't resorting to pandering even though that would be the path of least resistance. Typically, lawmakers tend to be noncommittal

  • Projects are on track

    By Randy Ellis • Staff Writer • rellis@oklahoman.com | Updated: 8 hr ago

    Waiting behind candy-striped, mechanical arms and flashing lights at railroad crossings long has been a source of irritation for harried motorists, but it beats being smacked by a train. Oklahomans soon will begin seeing a lot more of those flashing crossing signals and, hopefully, fewer collisions. Determined to improve safety, the state is about to embark on an ambitious project to spend $100 million improving 300 railroad crossings over the next three years, said Terri Angier, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Transportation Department. The Oklahoma Transportation Commission is expected to consider awarding up to 10 of those railroad crossing projects at its Oct. 12 meeting, with more to follow.

  • Refugees are finding 'a better life' in Oklahoma

    By Juliana Keeping Staff Writer jkeeping@oklahoman.com | Updated: 4 hr ago

    Yassir Kori fled authorities after he protested against the government bulldozing homes in his neighborhood in Sudan. Friends dragged an unconscious Thang Lian Khup into hiding after he fought with soldiers who assaulted women at a neighborhood Christmas celebration in Myanmar. Ahmed Al Batbuti worried about car bombs when he walked his son to and from school in Baghdad, where even mundane errands are fraught with danger in an ongoing sectarian street war. Violence and strife prompted these men and their families to seek refugee status, a journey that eventually led them to the United States and Oklahoma.

  • Air strikes that hit hospital may have been U.S. action

    By LYNNE O'DONNELL Associated Press | Published: Sun, Oct 4, 2015

    AFGHANISTAN | KABUL — Confusion reigned in the wake of the deadly bombing Saturday of a hospital compound in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz that killed at least 19 people and wounded dozens more. It remains unclear exactly who bombed the hospital run by Doctors Without Borders and the international medical charity has demanded an investigation into the incident. Doctors Without Borders said that "all indications" pointed to the international military coalition as responsible for the bombing and called for an independent investigation. The U.S.

  • Paying to play

    By Cliff Schleusner For The Oklahoman | Published: Sun, Oct 4, 2015

    For outdoorsmen and women in Oklahoma, early autumn may be the greatest time of the year. Dove season is well underway. You can hunt pronghorn on the prairie and still catch largemouth bass from the bow of a boat in weather warm enough to keep the fish active and on the bite. And before you know it, you'll be moving to the tree stand for white-tailed deer as winter comes on. All of these pursuits have something in common, aside from the obvious. As a hunter and angler and boater you are paying for conservation. Next time you gas up your boat, buy a spool of 10-pound test monofilament fishing line, or a box of bird load for your 12-gauge pump, keep this in mind: a portion of what you pull out of your wallet is

  • Big blue caught at Canton is new lake record

    Published: Sun, Oct 4, 2015

    Remember the scene in Jaws where the shark is being harpooned with barrels attached and the great white keeps taking the barrels underwater before they pop to surface? Well, that's kind of the way Gordon Campbell of Seiling describes trying to boat a 65-pound blue catfish out of Canton Lake on a jug line Monday. "It just kept pulling the jug under and taking off, pulling it under and taking off," Campbell said. "It was just like the movie Jaws." After about 10 to 15 minutes, the big blue finally was tired enough that Campbell and his son, Toby, were able to get the fish to the surface. It turned out to be the new Canton Lake record. "I got to admit that when we got him in the net it was a hell of a rush," Campbell

  • Finding our place in the universe

    Published: Sun, Oct 4, 2015

    BALTIMORE — Twinkling stars are pretty but, for astronomers, problematic. Twinkles are caused by the interference of Earth's atmosphere with light radiating throughout the breathtakingly beautiful and unimaginably violent universe. In 1990, however, the Hubble telescope went into orbit 370 miles above Earth, beyond the atmospheric filter, peering perhaps 12 billion years into the past, almost to the Big Bang of 13.7 billion years ago. It has seen interesting things, including HD 189733b, a planet about 63 light-years (370 trillion miles) away, where winds exceed 4,000 mph and it rains molten glass. As Hubble nears the end of its life, its much more capable successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, is being developed at Johns

  • Outdoor notebook: Hunters share state black bear record

    By Ed Godfrey | Published: Sun, Oct 4, 2015

    Oklahoma has a new black bear state record and it is shared by two hunters. Michael Musgrove of Wilburton and Ken Baker of Hulbert both had bears with scores of 20 1/16. Black bear skulls must score 19 or greater to be eligible for a Cy Curtis award with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. Both bears were taken in Latimer County during archery seasons: Musgrove's in 2013 and Baker's in 2014. The Wildlife Department just last year made black bear, elk and antelope eligible for its Cy Curtis Awards program, which has been recognizing trophy deer taken in Oklahoma since 1972.

  • Campus gunman spared ‘lucky one' to relay a message to police

    By GOSIA WOZNIACKA and TAMI ABDOLLAH Associated Press | Published: Sun, Oct 4, 2015

    OREGON | ROSEBURG — The 26-year-old killer who gunned down classmates inside an Oregon college spared a student and gave the “lucky one” something to deliver to authorities, according to the mother of a student who witnessed the rampage. Shooter Christopher Sean Harper-Mercer later killed himself as officers arrived, Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin said Saturday. Authorities have not disclosed whether they have an envelope or package from Harper-Mercer. However, a law enforcement official said Saturday a manifesto of several pages had been recovered.

  • Burned as baby, woman finally meets, thanks nurse who cared for her

    By MARY ESCH Associated Press | Published: Sun, Oct 4, 2015

    ALBANY, N.Y. — For 38 years, a few black-and-white photographs of a nurse cradling a baby provided comfort to a woman who suffered terrible burns and endured years of playground taunts and painful surgeries thereafter. For all that time, until Tuesday, she dreamed of meeting her again. The photos show Amanda Scarpinati at just 3 months old, her head thickly wrapped in gauze, resting calmly in the nurse's arms. Shot for the Albany Medical Center's 1977 annual report, the images have a beatific, “Madonna and Child” quality. As a baby, she had rolled off a couch onto a boiling steam vaporizer. Melted mentholated ointment scalded her skin. The burns would require many reconstructive surgeries over the years. The

  • Retirees needing extra money have options

    Published: Sun, Oct 4, 2015

    Dear Mr. Berko: My husband and I are in our 70s, and we both retired several years ago from the real estate business. My husband has had four stents in the past five years. I've started losing my eyesight to macular degeneration, so driving my car makes me nervous. We made good money selling homes, but most of it was spent putting our three kids through college and graduate school. We have lived in the same big home for 44 years and don't have a mortgage. We have also helped all of the kids buy their homes, and we invest what we can in mutual funds each quarter for our seven grandchildren. We've helped the kids buy cars and appliances, and we're generous to them on their birthdays.

  • Hurricane peak passage gives orange juice futures sour bite

    Published: Sun, Oct 4, 2015

    Juice and jobs lead this edition of Futures File, our weekly commodities wrap-up: OJ squeezed lower Frozen orange juice futures fell to a three-year low this week, to under $1.05 per pound. Prices are dropping as the peak of hurricane season has passed, leaving Florida unscathed. Florida produces more than 80 percent of U.S. orange juice and can have production severely reduced by tropical storms. Traders who bet on hurricane damage pushing prices higher have been disappointed, forcing them to sell off positions at a loss, squeezing OJ prices lower. Orange juice demand has been falling since the late 1990's as consumers' preferences have shifted away from sugary drinks and interest in alternative juices has been