• Some places easing living restrictions on sex offenders. Oklahoma not likely to follow.

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Dec 4, 2014

    IN some American locales, officials want to ease the living restrictions they’ve placed on sex offenders during the past few decades. These laws can make it so difficult for offenders to find a place to live, The Wall Street Journal reports, that they add to homelessness and can make it harder to track offenders. And they don’t necessarily prevent repeat offenses. Don’t look for Oklahoma any time soon to begin scaling back what lawmakers have implemented with such gusto. Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater was among those quoted in the Journal story. The newspaper noted that he’s among a few prosecutors in Oklahoma who have tried to get lawmakers to amend a law requiring sex offenders to live no closer than 2,000

  • Oklahomans got it very right when they established tobacco fund endowment

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Dec 3, 2014

    OKLAHOMA voters were given a choice 14 years ago regarding what to do with perhaps $2 billion that would be coming to the state from tobacco companies. The decision they made could not have worked out better. Because voters approved a constitutional amendment to place those funds in an endowment trust, Oklahoma is well positioned to continue aiding health care in a variety of ways — even as the amount given over by tobacco companies declines. Oklahoma was the first state to protect its money in this way, following the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement involving tobacco companies and 46 states. Oklahoma’s attorney general at the time, Drew Edmondson, said the settlement was “the most important advance in public health

  • For Oklahoma, steep drop in oil prices is painful

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Dec 3, 2014

    Oklahoma is in for a rough ride even as the rides of Oklahomans have gotten smoother. Lower oil prices, which have translated into lower gasoline prices, are a major concern for the state’s energy sector and for the state treasury. The North American energy boom has been so successful that prices have plunged. OPEC’s decision last week to maintain production levels rather than wait out the price bust doesn’t help. Share prices of publicly traded energy firms have been falling along with the price of crude. These companies will suffer economically for as long as the plunge lasts. This will be seen by some as “economic justice,” but the populist view that energy firms make obscene profits has never been matched

  • Uncontested legislative races becoming routine in Oklahoma

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Dec 3, 2014

    Many of the Oklahoma legislators who took their oaths of office last month didn’t have to win an election to get there. They drew no opponent, a continuing occurrence here and elsewhere. Eight state Senate candidates (out of 25 possible) were unopposed in 2014, as were 50 state House candidates. Of the former group, seven were Republicans. Among unopposed House candidates, 35 were Republicans and the remainder Democrats. Two years ago, 61 of the 125 legislative seats available had been decided by primary election day. That was the greatest number of unopposed races in Oklahoma in at least the previous 32 years, according to an analysis at the time by the Tulsa World. That year, 54 of the 101 House seats available and seven

  • For most, Oklahoma voter ID law is no impediment

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Dec 2, 2014

    MORE than 820,000 people cast ballots in Oklahoma in the Nov. 4 election. Statewide, about 1,600 cast provisional ballots. Just 699 of those provisional ballots were issued because voters failed to provide a proper ID. And just 34 of those voter ID-related provisional ballots were ultimately rejected. This shows once again that Oklahoma’s voter ID law isn’t blocking access to the polls. It is, however, preventing people from illegally voting. Although possession of a driver’s license is a basic necessity for the overwhelming majority of Oklahomans, the state’s voter ID law is designed to accommodate outliers. Valid forms of voter ID include a driver’s license, military ID, passport or a free ID card from a county

  • Oklahoma should get off short list of states that haven't banned texting while driving

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Dec 2, 2014

    POLICYMAKERS in 44 other states have figured it out. They’ve come to understand that cellphones, once a luxury, are now so ubiquitous that people of all ages feel naked if they don’t have theirs with them at all times. The policymakers also know that when people use the phones while driving, the motorists are a danger to themselves and others. And so these 44 states have banned text-messaging while driving. Many have even banned the use of cellphones outright while at the wheel. Oklahoma is one of the six states that hasn’t banned text-messaging while driving. Oh, the state doesn’t allow new teen drivers to text — but only for the first several months after getting their license. Once that term expires, they’re

  • EPA regulations hold harsh impact on families

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Dec 1, 2014

    THAT the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear challenges to federal environmental rules targeting mercury emissions is welcome news. A favorable ruling could rein in the Obama administration’s out-of-control Environmental Protection Agency, whose efforts do little to significantly improve the environment but much to harm citizens’ quality of life as they pay ever-higher prices for power and goods. A new study by Energy Ventures Analysis notes that dramatic cost increases are possible under the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, proposed guidelines unveiled in June to cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil-fueled power generating units. The EPA claims that plan will ensure emissions in 2030 are 30 percent lower than they were

  • Oklahoma AG opinions show need for budget reform

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Nov 30, 2014

    LEGAL opinions issued by Attorney General Scott Pruitt indicate that lawmakers improperly diverted millions from some dedicated accounts to other areas of government this year. Those opinions highlight, once again, the need to improve state budget writing and oversight of agency finances. Among other things, legislators voted to take $5 million from the Trauma Care Assistance Revolving Fund and place it in the Special Cash fund, which was then tapped for other uses. The trauma fund was created to reimburse doctors and trauma facilities (such as hospitals or ambulance services) for uncompensated care.

  • 'Sustainability' rarely mentioned by liberals in entitlement, deficit talk

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Nov 30, 2014

    THE buzz on the term “sustainable” reaches beehive levels on a variety of fronts these days. Liberals generally believe that sustainable energy sources are preferable to fossil fuels and that a wide range of environmental policies should be based on sustainability. Funny, but they rarely invoke “sustainability” in connection with entitlements or the federal deficit. We’ve used “sustainable” many times on these pages over the years, in connection with Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, deficit spending — you name it and sustainability has entered the swarm. As far back as 2003, Social Security’s own trustees declared that the program “is not sustainable over the long term.

  • ScissorTales: Statistics tell interesting story

    The Oklahoman editorials | Published: Sat, Nov 29, 2014

    THE Oklahoma Policy Institute does a marvelous job gathering and analyzing information. Its crunching of numbers on state finances is a valuable tool for journalists, policymakers and the public. An update is now available for an OKPolicy tool called CountySTATS, which details demographic information for each of Oklahoma’s 77 counties. (Check it out at okpolicy.org/resources/countystats2014). Here’s something we found interesting: The state’s smallest county has a higher percentage of Hispanic residents than the largest county. Also, a higher percentage of Cimarron County residents are employed in state and local government than in Oklahoma County — 11 percent vs. 10 percent.

  • Oklahoma's NCLB waiver reprieve may prove to be temporary

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Nov 28, 2014

    THE U.S. Department of Education has reinstated Oklahoma’s one-year waiver from certain provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind law. This is welcome news since it reduces federal red tape. But several proposals touted by Oklahoma politicians could lead to another revocation of that waiver next year. After lawmakers repealed Common Core academic standards, Oklahoma lost a federal waiver exempting the state from provisions of NCLB that would designate about 1,600 schools (90 percent) as needing improvement. The designation would cost those schools control over roughly $30 million in federal funding.

  • No excuse for Oklahoma policymakers not to pursue corrections reform

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Nov 28, 2014

    THE Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs and Oklahoma Policy Institute are serious, reputable think tanks with vastly different worldviews. The former champions a conservative, free-market approach to government. It favors tax cuts. OK Policy generally sees government spending and taxation as the solution, not the problem, to issues facing the state. Yet these two groups have found common ground on the need for corrections reform in Oklahoma. In op-eds published in this newspaper Sunday, OK Policy’s executive director and OCPA’s executive vice president each called on leaders to do something different in this area.

  • Food, family, football and other blessings

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Nov 27, 2014

    PRESIDENTIAL proclamations are typically verbose, ghostwritten, ceremonial and quickly forgotten. Remember Barack Obama’s proclamation of National Family Week of 2014? No? It happened less than a week ago. As ephemeral as they are, some presidential proclamations are more dessert than turkey, sticking in memory because of the importance attached to an event about which the document was issued. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation is the gravy covering several such examples. Through the years, presidents have proclaimed a certain date as being Thanksgiving Day — as if the people might not know otherwise. And also through the years, Thanksgiving proclamations didn’t always carry a November date. George Washington

  • Abraham Lincoln: 'A day of thanksgiving, praise'

    Published: Thu, Nov 27, 2014

    President Abraham Lincoln’s 1864 Thanksgiving proclamation: “It has pleased Almighty God to prolong our national life another year, defending us with His guardian care against unfriendly designs from abroad and vouchsafing to us in His mercy many and signal victories over the enemy, who is of our own household. It has also pleased our Heavenly Father to favor as well our citizens in their homes as our soldiers in their camps and our sailors on the rivers and seas with unusual health. He has largely augmented our free population by emancipation and by immigration, while He has opened to us new sources of wealth and has crowned the labor of our workingmen in every department of industry with abundant rewards.

  • Numerous recent examples of how social ills plague Oklahoma

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Nov 26, 2014

    WE’VE said any number of times that until more Oklahomans are able climb out of poverty, or stop misusing drugs and alcohol at such a high rate, or stop having children at such a young age, the social ills that have plagued this state for generations will only continue. The effects of those ills were on ghastly display last week. In Muskogee, police are trying to determine whether neglect contributed to the death of a 12-year-old boy found in a home Thursday. He weighed just 37 pounds and was about 3 ½ feet tall. His family told police the boy had suffered a medical condition shortly after birth and from ongoing medical issues since then. Police also found several dirty diapers in a bedroom and animal feces on the floor of the

  • Ferguson: A symbol of deep divides among Americans

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Nov 26, 2014

    Continued dialogue needed

  • If successful, Oklahoma tax cut challenge has major potential consequences

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Nov 25, 2014

    A case before the Oklahoma Supreme Court will determine if a constitutional provision designed to hinder passage of tax increases also hinders passage of tax cuts. The wrong outcome could result in widespread tax increases. Lawmakers should be prepared to deal with an adverse court decision. State Question 640, approved by Oklahoma voters in 1992, amended the Oklahoma Constitution to require that revenue measures must either be sent to a vote of the people or get three-fourths approval in both houses of the Legislature. It also banned approval of such measures during the final five days of a legislative session. A lawsuit now argues that a revenue bill includes tax increases and tax cuts. That flies in the face of common

  • New Republican majority in Congress needs to KEEP on keeping on

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Nov 24, 2014

    FOR the good of energy security and domestic energy independence, the new Republican majority in Congress needs to KEEP on keeping on. “KEEP” is an acronym for a plan of action posited by Mark P. Mills, a Manhattan Institute senior fellow. Writing for Forbes, Mills says the North American energy boom caught many of us by surprise and needs to be encouraged by government policy. In our view, it would be a surprise if the Obama administration allows the market rather than Washington to set the parameters for growth in the energy sector. The alternative, of course, is for government policy to artificially restrain growth. “KEEP” stands for Keystone, EPA, exports and production. More on that below.

  • As business booms, Oklahoma casinos, state need to keep looking for ways to help problem gamblers

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Nov 23, 2014

    TEN years after Oklahoma voters approved a state question to allow Indian tribes to offer faster electronic gaming machines, the state has more than 115 gambling sites and hundreds of millions of dollars more in the treasury. The tribes are flourishing. Oklahoma also has thousands of problem gamblers, a not-unexpected offshoot of expanded gaming. Indeed from the outset in 2004, Oklahoma has directed funding to the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to help deal with problem gamblers. Most every state does something similar. In a recent report, stateline.org noted that of the 23 states that allow casino gambling, all but five have statutes providing services for people who have gambling problems. But some

  • Fraud issues draining federal program to help injured workers

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Nov 23, 2014

    ONE of the many problems with an ever-bigger government is that it amplifies the impact of incompetence or corruption. That’s certainly the case with the Social Security Disability Insurance Program, where just 4 percent of administrative law judges may have facilitated $2 billion in bogus payments. The program’s payments are intended for those who can no longer work, but applicants whose disability claims are initially denied can appeal to administrative law judges. As chairman of the House Oversight Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Health Care and Entitlements, U.S. Rep. (soon to be U.S. Sen.) James Lankford has focused on apparent abuses in disability payments.