• Balkanization of U.S. politics continues apace

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Jan 25, 2015

    TALK about your strange bedfellows. Liberals uneasy with states asserting their constitutional rights vis a vis the federal government have no problem with cities asserting their rights to do things the states won’t do. And some conservative Republicans who insist on states’ rights are fighting the desire by local governments to call any end-around plays aimed at state law. The liberal agenda, led by fracking bans, minimum wage increases, drone restrictions, mandated paid sick leave, etc., is on a roll at the local level. This is particularly true in states where Republicans control state government. The inconsistency of the liberal position is no better illustrated than in a unanimous U.S.

  • It's folly to ignore tax impact on drilling in Oklahoma

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Jan 25, 2015

    THE left-leaning Oklahoma Policy Institute would have us believe all that’s needed to provide huge increases in school funding is a tax increase on energy producers. But the assumptions built into the institute’s estimates are untethered from economic reality. Previously, the state levied a 1 percent gross production tax on horizontal wells for the first four years of operation. Subsequently, the rate rose to 7 percent, the same rate levied on other types of wells. During the 2014 legislative session, lawmakers voted to revise that tax structure. All wells are now taxed at 2 percent for the first three years of production; the rate increases to 7 percent thereafter. OK Policy was among those arguing for a 7 percent tax on

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: Term limit proposal worth watching

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Jan 24, 2015

    ARE Oklahoma’s 12-year term limits for state legislators too short? State Rep. Paul Wesselhoft believes the answer is yes, and he may have a point. Wesselhoft, R-Moore, filed a proposed constitutional amendment this week that would ask voters if they’d prefer 16-year term limits instead of what’s on the books now. Voters overwhelmingly approved the 12-year limits in 1990, with 2004 being the first year that lawmakers were forced out of office by term limits. More recently, voters approved a constitutional change limiting statewide office holders to eight years on the job. Clearly, Oklahoma voters like the idea of getting new blood into elective offices.

  • Forecasting oil prices isn't easy, but John Hofmeister gives it a shot

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Jan 23, 2015

    JOHN Hofmeister has an oil price forecast that energy firm shareholders will love and motorists will hate. Somewhere in the middle is the reality that ultra-low crude prices aren’t good for the overall economy and especially not good for Oklahomans. Hofmeister is a former president of Shell Oil Co. He recently told USA Today’s Bill Loveless that, later this year, oil prices will rebound to above $80 a barrel and gasoline prices will rise accordingly. So enjoy those sub $2-a-gallon gas prices while you can. The prognosticator could be wrong, of course. Saudi Arabia seems determined to break the backs of U.S. energy firms by keeping production high and contributing to the crude price plummet.

  • Much of the same, including the tone, in 2015 State of the Union speech

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Jan 22, 2015

    WRITING in 2013, columnist George Will touched on the spectacle that is the State of the Union speech. The Constitution, he wrote, says the president “shall from time to time” update Congress on the state of the union. It has instead become an annual “tawdry ritual of wishful thinking by presidents unhinged from political reality and histrionics by their audiences.” That pretty well sums up the 2015 version. Little in the one-hour speech constituted news, because Barack Obama had in recent weeks been laying out many of his proposals. And nothing about the speech constituted a departure in form for Obama, who struck a somewhat agreeable tone immediately following the bashing his party took in November’s midterm

  • Legislation ignores violations of Oklahoma reading law

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Jan 22, 2015

    TWO state lawmakers want to continue allowing children who read at a first-grade level or worse to be promoted to fourth grade and beyond. But they want to require that those students be given the opportunity to attend summer reading academies. Nothing’s wrong with the reading academy idea; many schools already offer those programs. The bigger problem is that the legislation ignores the fact that many schools have failed to abide by existing law and severely neglected reading instruction. Sen. Ron Sharp, R-Shawnee, and Rep. Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, have filed a bill to make permanent a temporary program that allows promotion of functionally illiterate children when a panel of local school officials and the child’s

  • OKC police, public stand to gain from use of body cameras

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Jan 21, 2015

    Tool is gaining popularity nationwide

  • Review of Oklahoma tax code holds promise, peril

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Jan 21, 2015

    STATE lawmakers are once again calling for a review of tax breaks to ensure they stimulate economic growth. This is justified. But too many similar efforts in past sessions have devolved into little more than political cash grabs that targeted middle-class families. House Speaker Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview, and members of his leadership team have indicated that serious tax-break review will occur this year. As in past years, the implication is that lawmakers will scour the tax code for breaks the public would consider “corporate welfare.” Rep. David Dank, R-Oklahoma City, has done yeoman’s work in identifying flaws with several existing tax breaks for businesses. In many instances, he’s made a credible case that

  • Low-income adults not served by punishing for-profit colleges

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Jan 20, 2015

    Obama administration has targeted these schools

  • Are two years really needed to examine justice issues in Oklahoma?

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Jan 19, 2015

    Our excitement about Gov. Mary Fallin forming a high-level committee to guide criminal justice reform efforts is tempered by the fact the group will have two years to issue its recommen-dations. A news release from the governor’s office says the committee “is to present its findings to the governor and the legislative leaders by Dec. 31, 2016.” So that’s the drop-dead date, and it’s certainly possible the committee will get to the finish line before then. But does anyone want to take that bet? Fallin is seeking better ways to treat nonviolent offenders with substance abuse problems and mental health issues. Amen! Oklahoma has a large population who struggle with those issues, and they contribute greatly to people

  • The Tax Foundation report puts a dent in 'fair share' argument

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Jan 19, 2015

    THE rich get richer because they don’t pay enough federal income taxes. Ergo, the poor stay poor even if they don’t pay any income taxes. This seems to be the belief of Barack Obama and his fellow progressives. Obama used the tale quite successively to fend off a challenge from Mitt Romney in 2012. Romney, of course, was a poster child for the rich-don’t-pay-enough taxes narrative. “Those who have done well, including me,” Obama said, “should pay our fair share in taxes to contribute to the nation that made our success possible.” The rich, he said, “shouldn’t get a better deal” than everyone else. If the wealthy are getting a better deal, the word hasn’t gone out. Perhaps it’s only those

  • File as 'unacceptable' the IRS service forecast for coming months

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Updated: Fri, Jan 16, 2015

    Good service isn’t an attribute that citizens generally attribute to government agencies. In all fairness, most government employees do a good job in dealing with customers. But the image of indifference is rampant. It appears the Internal Revenue Service will bolster that image with a plan that basically telegraphs this message: We expect you to be on time in paying taxes and filing returns, but don’t expect us to reciprocate. In the case of audits, that may be welcome news. Otherwise it’s not. The federal Office of the Taxpayer Advocate, in its latest annual report, says the service level for the IRS is bad and getting worse. Good luck trying to call the IRS. Your call has a 50 percent chance of even being answered.

  • More Republican control at the state level nationwide. Now what?

    The Oklahoman editorial | Published: Sun, Jan 18, 2015

    POLITICAL wonks are obsessed by it. Pundits are well aware of its importance, and politicians are tuned in to the trend. But average Americans may not be keenly aware that 2014 brought a “wave election” that has no direct connection to Republicans boosting their numbers in the U.S. House and regaining control of the Senate. Not since the 1920s has the Grand Old Party had such a hold on state governments. Republicans control the governor’s office in 31 states and the legislature in 30. That’s up from 29 governorships and 27 legislatures in 2014. In nearly half the states, Republicans control both the governor’s office and the legislature. Of course that’s old hat in Oklahoma, which has had zero Democrats in

  • Tax burden is heavy for many Oklahomans

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Jan 18, 2015

    Good reason why so many families feel they’re overtaxed

  • George F. Will: Romney's third run would be no charm

    By George Will | Published: Sun, Jan 18, 2015

    WASHINGTON — After his third loss, in 1908, as the Democratic presidential nominee, William Jennings Bryan enjoyed telling the story of the drunk who three times tried to enter a private club. After being tossed out into the street a third time, the drunk said: “They can’t fool me. Those fellows don’t want me in there!” Mitt Romney might understandably think that a third try would have a happy ending in a successful presidency. First, however, he must be a candidate. In 1948, when Democrats considered offering their presidential nomination to Dwight Eisenhower, the former and future Democratic speaker of the house, taciturn Sam Rayburn, said of Eisenhower: “Good man, but wrong business.

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: After 2020, Texas figures to win in congressional reshuffling

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Jan 17, 2015

    AFTER the 2000 census, Oklahoma suffered the ignominy of being a growing state and yet losing one of its six seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. A decade later, the state kept its five seats. What will happen in another five years, following the 2020 census? Election Data Services says nothing will happen. Oklahoma won’t lose a seat but it won’t get its sixth seat back. The consulting firm has projected that the 435 House seats will be reshuffled, as always, and the big winner will again be Texas. Following the 2010 census, the Lone Star State picked up four seats. Election Data Services predicts Texas could gain three more after the next census. Texas has led the nation in population growth while states

  • Oklahoma lawmakers should pay attention to judge's recent ruling in workers' compensation case

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Jan 16, 2015

    OKLAHOMA lawmakers who obsess on such silly issues as whether public school teachers can wish someone “Merry Christmas” ought to turn their attention to truly pressing concerns, such as a decision out of Pottawatomie County District Court last week. In that case, a judge ruled that an injured worker can sue his employer for negligence because the injury was “foreseeable.” If it stands, the ruling would turn the state’s workers’ compensation system on its head and harm companies and their employees. A worker at Hibdon Tires Plus sued his employer after injuring his neck and back while trying to remove a bolt from a wheel.

  • Taking a principled stand can bring consequences

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Jan 16, 2015

    U.S. House members’ complaints off-putting

  • Oklahoma execution will be a test of new protocols, competency

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Jan 15, 2015

    IS the state of Oklahoma capable of carrying out an execution that goes according to plan — one that’s efficient, effective and humane? We could find out Thursday evening. That’s when Charles Frederick Warner is scheduled to die at the state penitentiary in McAlester. Warner’s would be the first execution carried out since April 29, when Clayton Derrell Lockett died 43 minutes after his execution began. That procedure was a mess: Lockett writhed on the gurney, moaning and clenching his teeth. A state investigation found that an improperly placed IV in Lockett’s groin was the biggest problem. It also determined that the medical personnel on site were ill-prepared and ill-equipped, and that there were no contingencies

  • Oklahoma House member takes misuse of media office to a new low

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Jan 15, 2015

    A state lawmaker and an Islamic advocacy group engaged in a war of words last year following news that ISIS was on the march in Iraq. In their latest dustup, state Rep. John Bennett and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) are again battling over words — specifically words in Islam’s holy book. And it all relates to the words and images in a Paris satirical newspaper. Last fall, we criticized both Bennett and CAIR, the former for painting Islam with an overly broad brush and the latter for being slower to criticize ISIS atrocities than it was to blast Bennett for his remarks. This time, there’s no equivalency: Reaction by Bennett to the terrorist outbreak in France last week, and CAIR’S reactions to