• Best to vet Oklahoma 1-cent tax proposal now rather than later

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Nov 18, 2015

    THE constitutionality of a plan to increase the state sales tax to fund education needs in Oklahoma now faces a court challenge. Proponents of the initiative petition are understandably upset, but it's better to address constitutional questions now rather than later. We've long supported Oklahomans' right to place items on the ballot. But nothing is gained if citizens submit a plan to voters and expend millions promoting it in a statewide campaign — only to see the entire thing struck down as unconstitutional upon passage. Based on the Oklahoma Supreme Court's rulings, there is reason to question if the proposed plan represents unconstitutional logrolling of multiple topics in violation of the single-subject rule

  • No place for fear-mongering in debate over Syrian refugees

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Nov 18, 2015

    IN light of the terrorist attacks in Paris, caution is advised as it pertains to U.S. refugee policy. Political posturing should not be part of the equation, but naturally it's in full bloom, particularly among Republicans. The governors in at least 23 states have taken various actions designed to curb or stop the flow of Syrian refugees. Twenty-two of those governors are Republicans, including Oklahoma's Mary Fallin, who on Monday asked President Barack Obama to stop accepting refugees from Syria, at least for a time. That country has seen millions flee as the Islamic State has expanded its murderous stronghold. The terrorist group claimed credit for the multiple attacks in Paris last week that left 129 dead and dozens

  • Attacks in Paris underscore need for bolder ISIS strategy

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Nov 17, 2015

    PERHAPS, if Heaven forbid the United States were to be attacked by the Islamic State on a scale comparable to what happened Friday in Paris, President Barack Obama would acknowledge his strategy to defeat the terrorist group needs improvement. Until then, expect business as usual. The president gave no indication Monday that he's interested in an overhaul of the administration's current practice of targeted air strikes in Syria and Iraq and the arming and training of opposition forces in the region. “The strategy that we are putting forward is the strategy that is ultimately going to work,” Obama said in Turkey at the conclusion of two days of talks at the G20 Summit. “It's going to take time.

  • Some change is needed to OKC panhandling ordinance

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Nov 17, 2015

    IT'S understandable that the sister of a man struck by a vehicle and killed while panhandling might be upset about City Councilwoman Meg Salyer's effort to crack down on this practice. “It disturbs me, this lady trying to do away with panhandling,” Jean Fields told The Oklahoman recently. “There's so many people out there, on the streets. A lot of them are homeless and that's the only way they have to eat.” But what about the driver of the vehicle that struck Fields' brother, Joseph Geary? The man now lives every day with the memory of this horrific event, and with the pain of having killed a human being while doing nothing more than trying to get to work, or complete an errand that day.

  • Fewer silos are needed in Oklahoma state government

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Nov 16, 2015

    WHAT Trait Thompson says has occurred inside the Oklahoma Capitol through the years is a fitting description of state government — numerous, separate agencies that in many cases should be communicating with each other, but don't. The result can be a mess. In the case of the Capitol building, these government silos have produced a variety of physical changes made by the various entities housed there. Thompson is dealing with those results as he oversees a wholesale renovation of the century-old building. He offered a few examples recently in an interview with The Oklahoman's Rick Green: “Tile glued over marble. Plastic walls in historic corridors where people have busted through the plaster and just put a door in.

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: Hillary's down on charter schools

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Updated: Sun, Nov 15, 2015

    HILLARY Clinton said during a recent campaign stop in South Carolina that she has supported charter schools through the years. However, “Most charter schools, they don't take the hardest-to-teach kids, or if they do, they don't keep them. And so the public schools are often in a no-win situation.” This assessment would come as a surprise to those who run Santa Fe South in Oklahoma City, or Harding Charter Prep, or KIPP Reach College Prepatory. In each of these schools, the enrollment is overwhelmingly made up of low-income children of color who would fit Clinton's definition of “harder-to-teach.

  • Might Vera visit pay dividends for OK County jail plan?

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Nov 15, 2015

    IT took a once-in-a-lifetime natural disaster for officials in New Orleans to reconsider their approach to criminal justice, particularly their use of the local jail. What might it take for such a change to occur in Oklahoma County? Our jail has been the subject of much scrutiny and discussion the past several years, since the U.S. Justice Department cited dozens of civil rights violations and ordered they be addressed or risk a federal takeover. All but a few have been rectified; Sheriff John Whetsel and others believe the remaining problems cannot be solved without a new jail.

  • GOP needs to harness, direct populist message on government

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Nov 15, 2015

    IN its worst versions, the populist streak in this year's presidential race has taken the form of immigrant-bashing and economic protectionism that runs counter to the free-market conservatism long championed by Republicans. But in the latest GOP presidential debate, several candidates sounded populist notes that were true to conservatism and possessed broad voter appeal. Time and again, the Republican contenders noted big government benefits the politically connected at the expense of small businesses and individuals. That's a message the eventual Republican nominee should hone and use relentlessly. Businesswoman Carly Fiorina made the argument early, noting that Obamacare was “crony capitalism at its worst.

  • GOP needs better than Trump if it hopes to win White House

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Updated: Fri, Nov 13, 2015

    THE bombast, as always with Donald Trump, was on full display during the fourth prime-time debate among Republican presidential candidates. So too was the boorishness and negativism and hubris that should give GOP voters pause. This debate in Milwaukee, hosted by Fox Business Channel and The Wall Street Journal, focused primarily on economic issues — everything from tax policy to trade to immigration reform — and touched on other topics such as foreign policy. At nearly every turn, Trump was more bluster than anything else. This was acutely evident in discussing trade, particularly the Trans Pacific Partnership with 11 Pacific countries, which is being vetted now by Congress.

  • Affordable Care Act: Poor fiscal policy and bad politics

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Nov 13, 2015

    WHEN they passed the Affordable Care Act, Democrats in Congress believed the law would grow more popular as people started receiving benefits. Instead, opposition remains as strong as ever, and opponents have the upper hand even in states that embraced Obamacare. Take Kentucky, which was the only Southern state to expand Medicaid under the health law and run a state exchange where people could purchase Obamacare policies. The state's uninsured rate fell from 20.4 percent in 2013 to 11.9 percent by mid-2014. Yet the people of Kentucky have now elected a Republican governor, Matt Bevin, who promised to turn the state exchange over to the federal government and also campaigned on rolling back Medicaid expansion in some fashion.

  • Probation isn't sufficient punishment for corruption

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Nov 13, 2015

    A three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver has upheld the conviction of former Oklahoma Senate leader Mike Morgan and ordered his resentencing, likely to a “significant period of incarceration.” This is important not for the impact on Morgan, but the message sent: No one is above the law. Morgan, D-Stillwater, was convicted by a jury of accepting $12,000 in bribes to influence legislation impacting assisted living centers in 2007. At that time, Morgan was president pro tem of the Senate. Guidelines allowed a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. In 2013, Morgan was sentenced to five years of probation. In making that decision, U.S.

  • State could use review of Oklahoma medical licensure board processes

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Nov 12, 2015

    REPORTS that Gov. Mary Fallin intervened in an investigation of the state's medical licensure board, effectively telling board members to either fish or cut bait, have prompted predictable, partisan outcry. But what's truly disturbing is evidence that the board's investigation was legally problematic and badly botched from the outset. In 2010, the Oklahoma Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision launched an investigation of Dr. Steven Anagnost, a Tulsa spinal surgeon. Anagnost was accused of violations involving 23 patients. Among other things, he was accused of bungling surgeries so badly that patients were left paralyzed or dead; of charging for surgeries he did not perform; and of implanting a spinal device he was paid to

  • Another reason to hope Republican wins in 2016

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Updated: Wed, Nov 11, 2015

    PRESIDENT Barack Obama's announcement Friday that the Keystone XL pipeline won't get built on his watch is just one more reason for Americans — particularly those who live in energy-producing states such as Oklahoma — to hope that a Republican wins the White House in 2016. The GOP candidates understand that building this pipeline would be a net positive and that continuing to include fossil fuels as part of an overall energy strategy is a responsible way forward. The president doesn't believe that, as he made clear Friday. He made sure to point out that shipping “dirtier crude oil” into this country wouldn't increase U.S. energy security. He called fossil fuels “dirty” again in the next sentence.

  • Sensible government reforms often met with swift rebuttals

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Nov 11, 2015

    FEW doubt that Oklahoma state government is inefficient. Yet even the most seemingly common-sense reforms are met with swift condemnation. Given the serious budget shortfall facing the state, such knee-jerk opposition must end. No proposal is exempt from serious review, and constructive criticism must always be welcomed. But Oklahoma officials shouldn't oppose change simply because it requires change. Consider the idea of allowing the governor to appoint more heads of state agencies and commissions, a proposal recently studied by state senators. The directors of many agencies are appointed by boards and commissions.

  • Work to make Oklahoma state government more transparent is an ongoing struggle

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Nov 11, 2015

    NO one who's paid any attention should be surprised that Oklahoma fared poorly in a nationwide study of government transparency. The fight for more openness throughout government has been ongoing for years. In its new study, which looked at how states have implemented laws and practices meant to keep residents informed, the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity gave Oklahoma an F grade. We were one of 11 states to score so poorly. The center's researchers were hard on most states. Indeed only three earned a grade better than D-plus. The highest grades went to Alaska (a C), California (C-minus) and Connecticut (C-minus).

  • Voters would benefit from a less crowded GOP debate stage

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Nov 10, 2015

    IN Milwaukee on Tuesday night, eight Republican presidential candidates will gather in prime time to debate issues of the day. This is two fewer than in the previous debates, which will give these contenders a bit more elbow room to fight for the time needed to make their point or issue a rebuttal. It's a messy, inexact way to help determine which man or woman is best suited to carry the GOP standard in 2016. Sure, some candidates (Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina) have benefited from their debate performances, and others (Jeb Bush most recently) have not, but the unwieldy nature of these debates can make for less-than-productive outcomes, for the candidates and voters.

  • Many Oklahoma lawmakers don't wait for term limits to kick in

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Nov 9, 2015

    CRITICS of Oklahoma's term-limits law claim it robs voters of the chance to send experienced, knowledgeable policymakers to the Oklahoma Capitol. But in many cases, legislators choose to take their bows before being termed out. Lawmakers' self-imposed limits have proven as impactful as legal term limits. Rep. Mark McCullough, R-Sapulpa, is among those opting to leave before hitting the 12-year maximum allowed under term limits. First elected in 2006, McCullough could have served through 2018. Similarly, Rep. James Lockhart, D-Heavener, isn't seeking re-election next year. Lockhart was first elected in 2010 and could have served through 2022. The stereotype holds that politicians willingly give up power only when forced

  • Oklahoma lawmakers tackling serious topics with interim studies

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Nov 8, 2015

    OKLAHOMA lawmakers have been conducting serious business at the Capitol in recent months. Here's hoping that continues through the 2016 session, when all too often time is wasted on peripheral issues intended to do little more than score political points. Many of the interim studies held throughout the fall involve matters that potentially could benefit taxpayers. A few lawmakers even broached the idea of consolidation in looking at ways to get more bang for taxpayer dollars. Rep. Mike Christian, R-Oklahoma City, a former highway patrolman, wants to consolidate some functions of the Department of Public Safety, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. The three

  • A review of state, federal mental health laws is justified

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Nov 8, 2015

    NUMEROUS acts of violence committed nationwide by individuals with untreated mental illness have prompted state and federal officials to consider making it easier to force those individuals into treatment. We hope those efforts succeed. Members of the Oklahoma Senate recently discussed allowing courts to order adults with serious mental illness to be placed in outpatient treatment when those individuals have refused to take medication. Under existing state law, such orders can be issued only when a person has first been hospitalized at an inpatient psychiatric facility. At the federal level, Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa.

  • Some perspective warranted over length of Clinton inquiries

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Updated: Sat, Nov 7, 2015

    A pattern of “secrecy, deception and disdain for the law.” That's what a partisan congressional panel concluded about a person with close ties to the White House. Hillary Clinton and her emails? Nope. It was Ronald Reagan and the Iran-Contra affair in the 1980s. While much is made of the endurance race Clinton ran last month in a hearing that stretched over 11 hours, some perspective is needed. The Iran-Contra probe ran for nearly seven years and resulted in no convictions of the major players that would stand up on appeal. The Democratic Congress in 1987 all but said Reagan was behind the illegal arming of Nicaraguan freedom fighters, but proof was lacking.