• Reasons for optimism in drafts of Oklahoma academic standards

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Jul 10, 2015

    STATE officials have publicly released drafts of Oklahoma’s proposed academic standards for math and English. Although obstacles remain, the preliminary reviews are encouraging. In 2014, the Legislature repealed Common Core academic standards, choosing to revert to prior standards while replacement standards were developed for the 2016-2017 school year. In most states that have repealed Common Core, replacement standards have been virtually identical. When South Carolina unveiled new standards in March, reports indicated they were 90 percent aligned with Common Core. When Indiana unveiled new standards in 2014, officials with Hoosiers Against Common Core complained the replacement closely resembled Common Core.

  • Americans experiencing sticker shock as Obamacare takes hold

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Jul 10, 2015

    IT’S one step forward and 31 steps higher for Obamacare. The U.S. Supreme Court recently advanced nationalized health care with a decision affirming non-state health care exchanges. A ruling in the opposite direction would have dealt a huge blow to Obamacare. As for the “31” referenced above, it’s the percentage point rise in premium costs being sought by one of Oklahoma’s largest insurers. Yep, 31 percent in one year. It could be worse. The increase cited for Oklahoma compares with 36 percent in Tennessee and 54 percent in Minnesota. These states aren’t alone. Double-digit premium increases are being sought across the nation.

  • Nation’s slow legal process can prove costly for citizens

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Jul 9, 2015

    IN a recent decision, the U.S. Supreme Court said the federal government cannot take raisins from farmers without compensating them. It was a significant victory for the free market, but the case also illustrates how bad laws can rob citizens of their hard-earned income for years, indeed generations. The case centered on the federal Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937. That law authorizes the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to promulgate “marketing orders” to control raisin supplies and artificially inflate prices. Each year, a Raisin Administrative Committee sets a reserve requirement, which basically means it tells farmers to hand over a certain percentage of their crop to the federal government, free of charge.

  • Oklahoma County case offers example of sound lawsuit reform

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Jul 9, 2015

    THE attorney for a man who lost an arm in a workplace accident is upset that Oklahoma law caps “noneconomic” damages, insisting it’s wrong that juries are not notified about the cap. Forgive our skepticism, but we suspect the real objection here is that Oklahoma’s lawsuit reform statutes are working as intended. In 2012, oil rig manager James Todd Beason was involved in a serious accident that cost him an arm. A jury awarded Beason $9 million in economic damages and $5 million in noneconomic damages. But a 2011 law limits noneconomic damages to $350,000 in cases where a defendant’s fault is not found to be the result of grossly negligent or intentional acts. So Beason’s noneconomic damages were reduced from $5 million

  • OKC school district discipline plan off to a bumpy start

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Jul 8, 2015

    THE move to implement a new code of conduct for Oklahoma City Public School students is proving to be a challenge. The district says the new policy won’t be in place by the time classes begin Aug. 3, and there’s some question as to whether it’ll be fully in place by end of the school year. That may not be all bad, as teachers and the man who represents them have significant, and understandable, concerns about the proposal. Under the new policy, the district hopes to use “teacher interventions” to handle unruly students, instead of sending them off to a principal or other administrator. A study found that this practice occurs all too frequently in the city’s schools, as do suspensions and expulsions; the goal of

  • Why debate climate change when demonization will suffice?

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Jul 8, 2015

    IN the halls of academia, a long-held belief is that political and religious conservatives aren’t just wrong-headed but possibly have something wrong with their heads. Forget the left brain/right brain thing. This is about the brains of those clearly aligned with the right wing of politics. Now comes the head of the Environmental Protection Agency to claim that “climate deniers” aren’t “normal” human beings. That’s a softball belief compared with some we’ve heard about conservatism in general and Christian conservatism in particular. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy’s boss also gets into the act occasionally, expressing scorn for conservative Christians. President Obama ridiculed U.S. Sen.

  • Oklahoma officials try to help solve town's longtime water problem

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Jul 7, 2015

    IT’S encouraging to see state officials, including the governor, come together to find a way to help get clean drinking water to residents in Lexington who are without it. The shame is that such a confab had to happen in the first place. State Rep. Bobby Cleveland, R-Slaughterville, whose constituents are affected by sulfur-tainted water, presented a potential remedy during the 2015 session but saw it get blown up by colleagues who read into Cleveland’s plan an opening to perhaps give away water from southeastern Oklahoma at cost, or sell it to Texas. This never was part of the proposal, but the demonizing and fear-mongering succeeded.

  • Repeal of Oklahoma constitutional provision is long overdue

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Jul 6, 2015

    SEVERAL lawmakers have called for repealing Article II, Section 5 of the Oklahoma Constitution, the provision cited by the state Supreme Court in declaring a Ten Commandments monument unconstitutional. The Ten Commandments ruling has highlighted this issue, but there’s long been good reason to repeal that bizarre provision. Article II, Section 5, commonly referred to as a “Blaine Amendment” for the congressman who promoted the language in the 1800s, declares no “public money or property” shall be provided “directly or indirectly” for the benefit or support of “any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion.” Yet that provision was not designed to prevent state establishment of religion.

  • Skeptical that Obama really would walk away from talks

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Jul 6, 2015

    PRESIDENT Barack Obama said last week, on the day a deadline passed to reach an agreement with Iran on nuclear weapons, that, “I will walk away from the negotiations if in fact it’s a bad deal.” If only he truly meant that. Instead, Obama has given the impression that he wants to reach a deal — any deal — with Iran, despite the country’s bad acts and its mullahs’ long history of saying one thing and doing another. Indeed The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the Obama administration has been working since 2009 to craft some sort of agreement, and that the back-and-forth has at times involved secret messages between Iranian leaders and the administration, including a list of prisoners Iran wanted

  • Osage County feeling pinch of administration's anti-fossil fuel mindset

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Jul 5, 2015

    REGULATION of energy production has long been the province of state governments, but under the Obama administration there’s been a concerted push to transfer more power to the federal government. To view the decidedly negative outcome of such a transition, look no further than Osage County, Oklahoma. Osage County is unique because members of the Osage tribe hold mineral rights under a federal treaty. Tribal shareholders are paid a percentage of the revenue from oil and gas production on the county’s 1.4 million acres. Thus, the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs oversees much regulation of energy production in the county, unlike other areas.

  • Breyer dissent will help fuel anti-death penalty push

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Jul 5, 2015

    HAVING been given the go-ahead from the U.S. Supreme Court, Oklahoma plans to execute a man in August. It’s the first of three executions that had been placed on hold pending the outcome of the Supreme Court case, and are now back on track. How many more executions will follow? The question is worth asking given that it’s unclear how much midazolam — the sedative used in Oklahoma executions, and the focus of the appeal to the Supreme Court — the state has in its possession. And, it merits asking given the dissenting opinion offered by Justice Stephen Breyer, who said the death penalty itself likely violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

  • Lincoln, Reagan and the Fourth of July

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sat, Jul 4, 2015

    THOMAS Jefferson and John Adams. Two men who helped frame the world’s most moving picture. Presidents and political rivals, yet friends. Old men who died on the same day — July 4, 1826, the jubilee birthday of the United States of America. And two other presidents, both Midwest natives who faced hostility, one from his rebellious fellow countrymen and the other from the claws of the Russian bear. Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan commemorated the nation’s birthday 118 years apart, Lincoln in 1863 after the Union victory at Vicksburg and Reagan in 1981 in his first year in office. Lincoln’s remarks were impromptu, yet his words bore a mark that would be stamped into the permanent record later that year in the

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: Some lawmakers' reactions to recent court rulings over the top

    The Oklahoman editorials | Published: Fri, Jul 3, 2015

    THE Oklahoma Supreme Court handed down a 7-2 ruling this week that conservative lawmakers disagreed with. Their response? Impeach the bums! Eleven Republican House members were included in a news release saying the seven justices needed to be impeached because they said a Ten Commandments monument violated the state constitution and should be removed from the Capitol grounds. One lawmaker said jurists were displaying “undemocratic liberal dictatorial powers,” although two of the seven involved in this ruling are generally conservative voices on the court. In a separate news release, Rep. Mike Sanders, R-Kingfisher, made note of the Ten Commandments ruling and the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling legalizing same-sex

  • Might Oklahoma Ten Commandments ruling invite lawsuits over other displays?

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Jul 2, 2015

    THE Oklahoma Supreme Court says a Ten Commandments monument at the Oklahoma Capitol represents the use of state funds to support a system of religion, and therefore violates the state constitution. That the monument might not withstand judicial scrutiny wasn’t entirely unexpected, although few anticipated this particular challenge would succeed. A primary argument against installing the monument was that it would invite lawsuits, requiring expenditure of limited tax dollars on defense efforts with only a modest chance of success. Those criticisms have proven correct. This doesn’t mean we object to the Ten Commandments.

  • Most Oklahoma GOP officials shone in denouncing domestic violence

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Jul 2, 2015

    OKLAHOMA Republican Party officials’ recent debate over domestic violence showed some of them embodying the worst “war on women” stereotypes touted by their Democratic Party opponents. But far more Oklahoma Republicans rebutted those attacks through serious, substantive stands in solidarity with victims. Shortly after his election this spring, state GOP Chairman Randy Brogdon of Owasso appointed T.C. Ryan executive director of the party. That quickly drew criticism. In 2012, Ryan had pleaded guilty to domestic assault and battery in the presence of a minor child and interference with an emergency telephone call. As criticism mounted, Brogdon asked Ryan to instead serve as political director.

  • EPA ruling a small win against over-regulation

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Jul 1, 2015

    IN a small victory for regulatory sanity, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this week that the Environmental Protection Agency cannot arbitrarily ignore cost concerns when formulating new rules. Given that the case involved regulations that may generate just $1 in benefits for every $1,600 in mandatory new expenses, that’s a welcome reprieve. Among other things, the EPA oversees the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants Program, which regulates stationary-source emissions of more than 180 specified “hazardous air pollutants.” Power plants are a major focus of EPA officials administering that program. But the agency must show regulations are “appropriate and necessary” before implementing them.

  • Story provides reminder that bills can have unintended fallout

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Jul 1, 2015

    KYLE Gillum had a business idea he felt would benefit downtown Oklahoma City — opening a day care for dogs. He was whipsawed by an ordinance that a previous Legislature no doubt felt made perfect sense when it was approved, but instead serves an example of the unintended consequences of feel-good legislation. Lawmakers decided in 2008 that no new dog kennel should be allowed within 2,500 feet of a public or private school or licensed day care center in Oklahoma City or Tulsa. The bill was offered after patrons and nuns at a private preschool in south Oklahoma City expressed unease over a pit bull terrier kennel about a quarter mile away. The nuns said they were concerned about the safety of their children, although no

  • Supreme Court reverts to form with Oklahoma execution ruling

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Jun 30, 2015

    THE U.S. Supreme Court reverted to form Monday in upholding Oklahoma’s method of lethal execution. After a week that had pundits declaring the court might be swerving to the left, the conservative bloc of justices cleared the way for Oklahoma to continue its method of carrying out the death penalty. In the 5-4 decision, written by Justice Samuel Alito, liberal members of the court got no help from their conservative brethren, unlike last week’s decisions that made same-sex marriage a constitutional right and upheld the insurance subsidies that are critical to the Affordable Care Act. Both those decisions were hailed by progressives who are sure to be disappointed by Monday’s ruling. This wasn’t a great surprise,

  • Federal ethanol mandate becoming a regulatory farce

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Jun 30, 2015

    IF you want a glimpse of government dysfunction, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better example than the federal renewable-fuel mandate. A recent congressional hearing showed the law is being implemented in ways that are both haphazard and unrealistic. Passed in 2005 and 2007, the Renewable Fuel Standard requires that 35 billion gallons of ethanol-equivalent biofuels and 1 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel be refined by 2022. When the law was enacted, officials assumed U.S. fuel consumption would increase and domestic oil production would decrease as a share of supply. Lawmakers were wrong on both counts. Consumption declined during the recession and the hydraulic fracturing revolution unleashed domestic supply.

  • Oklahoma rural charter bill increases opportunity

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Jun 29, 2015

    OKLAHOMA has some nationally ranked charter schools, but has also maintained severe restrictions on charter school expansion. Indeed Oklahoma “was one of the few remaining states that restricted the growth of charter schools just to, basically, urban areas,” Todd Ziebarth, senior vice president for state advocacy and support for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, recently noted to The Oklahoman’s editorial writers. Nationally, Ziebarth said, roughly 55 percent of charter schools exist in urban areas, while 45 percent are in “suburban areas, rural areas and small towns.” Oklahoma was an outlier. But thanks to a new law, students living outside the urban core may now have greater public school