• Outreach efforts can't ensure that voters will be informed

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Aug 7, 2015

    OFFICIALS recently announced that Oklahoma state agencies will more aggressively promote voter registration opportunities to individuals seeking public assistance. That’s fine, but does anyone honestly think people capable of applying for welfare assistance are incapable of independently filling out a voter registration form? Under the federal National Voter Registration Act, the state Department of Human Services, the Health Department and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority must ask welfare applicants if they want to register to vote, offer them registration materials, and help them complete the forms. Groups such as the League of Women Voters said Oklahoma agencies were insufficiently zealous.

  • Trump needs to show more than bluster in first debate

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Aug 6, 2015

    WE know Donald Trump has the market cornered on bombast. Thursday’s gathering in Cleveland of Republican presidential contenders may provide a clue as to whether there’s any steak with that sizzle. Trump enters the Fox News event riding high. In a Monmouth University poll released Monday, he had the support of 26 percent of those surveyed. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was a distant second at 12 percent, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker had 11 percent. No one else in the 17-person field received more than 6 percent in the survey of registered voters who identify as Republicans or lean toward the GOP. Ten candidates will be on the stage for the prime-time event, having been selected based on an average of the five most

  • State taking responsible approach to Oklahoma quake issue

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Aug 6, 2015

    GOV. Mary Fallin was accused by some of dragging her feet in response to Oklahoma’s earthquake swarm, and some say she and state agencies continue to do so even following the governor’s acknowledgement of a link between the quakes and wastewater disposal wells. So it goes in the life of public officials. But Fallin and others, most notably the members of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, have been reasonable and thorough in their approach and reaction to these unsettling quakes. They have relied on science and facts, not emotion and assumptions, to guide their decision-making.

  • OK County jail committee right to note need for new focus

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Aug 5, 2015

    A committee that studied the need for a new Oklahoma County jail has the right idea in saying the project needs to be about more than brick and mortar. It must, committee members say, be part of a wholesale change in the approach to criminal justice. County engineer Stacey Trumbo, who headed up the committee, put it this way: “We don’t want business as usual, in other words.” Are policymakers listening? Business as usual has helped Oklahoma become the national leader in the number of women it puts in prison, per capita. It has resulted in state prisons that are filled far beyond capacity, with nearly 30 percent of those inmates serving time for drug-related offenses and about one-third of the population showing signs of

  • Marijuana finding supporters even in halls of Congress

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Aug 5, 2015

    IT wasn’t all that long ago that any efforts to get pro-marijuana legislation through Congress were dead on arrival. Not anymore. This change seems to reflect a troubling shift in the American public’s views about pot. Four states in recent years have legalized recreational marijuana use, and the District of Columbia is working to do the same. Two weeks ago, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved an amendment that would give recreational marijuana retailers access to the federal banking system.

  • Blaine amendment bloodline obvious in Oklahoma's constitution

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Aug 4, 2015

    IT’S a sign of progress that no one wants to be associated with the anti-Catholic heritage of state constitutional “Blaine amendments.” But that doesn’t make that heritage disappear. The Oklahoma Supreme Court’s decision ordering removal of a Ten Commandments monument from the state Capitol has highlighted the Blaine controversy. That decision was primarily based on Article II, Section 5 of the Oklahoma Constitution, which declares, “No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, donated, or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion” or for the benefit of “any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or

  • Oklahoma goodness evident as Hispanic population grows

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Aug 3, 2015

    ALTHOUGH illegal immigration remains a concern for Oklahomans, who favor the rule of law and earning your keep, this state is also proving to be a desirable locale for those who have moved here from south of the border. The anti-immigration rhetoric that once emanated from the state Capitol has subsided over time, thank goodness, and perhaps this is one reason the Hispanic population is growing in Oklahoma. For a stretch of years in the latter part of the previous decade, Oklahoma lawmakers frustrated by inaction at the federal level seemed intent on crafting the harshest immigration law of any state, as much for bragging rights as anything else.

  • Do Oklahoma cultural projects portend a new government role?

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Aug 3, 2015

    EFFORTS to launch two new state museums may involve a new approach to government cultural projects. Increasingly, museums may be subsidized via unrelated initiatives that can place government in the role of direct competitor to private-sector business interests. A law passed this year could shift control of the unfinished American Indian Cultural Center and Museum to the city of Oklahoma City. Basically, the state is asking the city to take over the museum site, charging city officials with funding its completion and handling operations. In return, the state kicks in $25 million in bond money, paired with $40 million in pledges from outside sources.

  • For Boeing and others, Oklahoma offers friendly skies

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Aug 2, 2015

    IN 1986, Boeing chose an energy-dependent city near an Air Force base as the site for a new maintenance facility promising a massive payroll. Oklahoma City competed hard for the project. We didn’t get it. The honor instead went to Lake Charles, La.  It was the first of three instances when an aerospace giant came courting but left Oklahoma as a bridesmaid.  At a time when it was abundantly clear that the state economy was overly dependent on oil and gas, the city desperately needed a game changer. It just got one — again — from Boeing itself. The Wednesday groundbreaking on an $80 million facility near Tinker Air Force Base represents an uplifting bookend to the heartbreaking announcement by the company in

  • Income 'inequality' focus is misguided and destructive

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Aug 2, 2015

    AMONG those on the political left, it’s fashionable to decry “income inequality.” They mistakenly assume any growth in top incomes comes at the expense of those at the bottom. New data released by the liberal Economic Policy Institute (EPI) inadvertently demonstrates why efforts to reduce income inequality are a path to nowhere. Historically, whenever the gap between the nation’s highest and lowest earners declines, it’s the result of economic downturn or recession. Any ideology that views the Great Depression with economic nostalgia is missing the point. Consider this: The EPI’s data shows the national share of all income held by the top 1 percent of earners rose to around 25 percent in the 1920s, but declined to

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: Solid quake policies in place

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Aug 1, 2015

    OKLAHOMA experienced a powerful earthquake when a 4.5-magnitude quake occurred near Crescent on Monday. Reaction to the event was strong as well, and we’re not talking about immediate Twitter feedback. On Tuesday, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission announced that two disposal wells in the Crescent area had been shut in, and a third had reduced its injection volume. This is an example of policy working as intended and of energy companies acting responsibly, although skeptics will prefer to look at it as a case of these companies simply trying to cover their backsides. The Corporation Commission said the operators of Devon Energy Production Co. LP and Stephens Energy Group LLC acted voluntarily.

  • Long past time to remove ban on U.S. oil exports

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Jul 31, 2015

    SAY this for the Obama administration’s nuclear agreement with Iran, which has received a chilly reception from many in Congress: It has provided momentum to lift this country’s obsolete ban on petroleum exports. During a news conference Wednesday, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner noted that, “If the administration wants to lift the (oil export) ban for Iran, certainly the United States should not be the only country left in the world with such a ban in place.” In Oklahoma, state finance secretary Preston Doerflinger said the proposal to ease sanctions on the sale of oil by Iran is cause for concern, especially because overproduction of foreign oil and this country’s export ban have contributed to declines in

  • On highway bill, more can kicking by Congress

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Jul 30, 2015

    IT was wishful thinking a few weeks back to believe Congress might, for the first time in a decade, pass a long-term highway funding bill. The standard fallback — a short-term extension — seems to be the option of choice once again, sorry to say. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has been trying since late June to get his six-year highway bill approved before Friday, when current highway funding expires and lawmakers head home for their August recess. Inhofe said this week that his bill has about as much bipartisan support as anything Congress will take up. Yet it also has unanswered questions about how it will be financed, and firm opposition in the House, thus

  • Oklahoma court challenges are likely over city limits drilling law

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Jul 30, 2015

    THIS year lawmakers attempted to strike a balance between economic development and reasonable regulation of drilling activities in city limits. It appears those efforts have fallen short, meaning court challenges and continued legal revisions are likely. Senate Bill 809 was meant to prevent cities from implementing a ban on drilling within city limits by making the Oklahoma Corporation Commission the primary regulator of drilling activity. However, the bill preserved cities’ authority to adopt “reasonable” regulations regarding health, safety and welfare. This was meant to allow local regulation of traffic, noise, odors, setbacks, fencing and items related to floodplain management.

  • Oklahoma needs to do more to rid schools of predators

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Jul 29, 2015

    ALLEGATIONS that a former Edmond Memorial High School band director had a sexual relationship with an Edmond student are a reminder that the state must do more to keep sexual predators out of Oklahoma schools. Unfortunately, it’s now possible for pedophiles to quietly resign and retain teaching licenses. Cameron Kedy is charged with soliciting sexual conduct with a minor. During an investigation, Kedy, 27, initially denied knowing the girl — a former student. Then he admitted knowing her. Then he admitted messaging using fictitious names. And then he admitted the girl stayed the night in his bed several times, but denied a sexual relationship.

  • Remember the name while debating nation's oil reserve

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Jul 29, 2015

    BOONE Pickens wants to draw down the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. We’re not sure that’s a good idea, but at least such a drain would deflate the SPR’s status as a political football. Letting the air out of reserve stocks seems to be a favorite of politicians. Some Oklahoma legislators, for example, never warmed to the idea of the Rainy Day Fund. Before citizens voted to protect this valuable resource, lawmakers tapped it injudiciously. The SPR isn’t a cash fund, but it is liquid. So it’s no surprise that in an era of petroleum surplus, some members of Congress want to write checks on the SPR’s account. Does it still make sense to stockpile oil? It certainly did when the SPR was created in 1975, in the

  • OK Republican chairman finds new ways to make waves

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Jul 28, 2015

    IN his column last week, the Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer expressed his outrage over the way that medical officials at Planned Parenthood blithely discussed the sale of fetal body parts. The remarks, recorded secretly by an anti-abortion group, have understandably riled conservatives and others who oppose abortion. Krauthammer noted that controversy provided Republicans in Congress with a chance to make a difference with this issue. His suggestion? Members should work with all their might to enact a ban on late-term abortions. As Krauthammer pointed out, roughly two-thirds of Americans say they would support such a ban. So such a move by Congress might actually prove successful.

  • Further investments key to bettering streets, roads in OKC, state

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Jul 28, 2015

    A report showing that streets and highways in and around Oklahoma City and Tulsa are among the worst in the country had something of a “dog bites man” quality to it. No one who has spent even a little time driving in Oklahoma’s two largest cities should have been surprised. Certainly Oklahoma City residents who responded to a recent community survey would nod in agreement with what the national nonprofit TRIP said about our streets. Of those responding to the city survey, only 22 percent were satisfied with the condition of city streets. The firm that administered the survey suggested the city make street improvement one of its priorities in the next two years. Eric Wenger, director of public works for Oklahoma City,

  • Privatization critics ignore government's track record

    The Oklahoma Editorial | Published: Mon, Jul 27, 2015

    AN Oklahoma lawmaker suggests state business-recruitment efforts might become more fruitful if they were outsourced to a private vendor. But a pro-union group argues privatization would lead to corruption and reduced accountability. Apparently, those critics haven’t noticed what already occurs when government officials control incentive programs. Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang, has requested a legislative study to consider whether the state should privatize all or part of the Department of Commerce. She notes that Arizona started down that path in 2011, and several states have shifted business-recruitment efforts to privately run boards. But Osborn’s study proposal is drawing fire from Good Jobs First, a Washington,

  • Light touch would be best with Oklahoma drone regulations

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Jul 27, 2015

    IN the private sector, interest in commercial applications for drones is on the rise. The industry’s biggest barriers remain heavy-handed federal regulation and potential state laws based on critics’ unfounded fears. For many businesses, particularly farmers, drones could reduce costs and improve efficiency. The Associated Press recently reported on a Maryland event where farmers from across the country inspected the latest technology. Mike Geske, a Missouri farmer, said unmanned aerial vehicles could simplify monitoring of irrigation pipes. Geske, who pays three men to do that job, said drones could generate “phenomenal” savings on labor and fuel.