• Less demagoguery sought in debate over Oklahoma's '85 percent' rule

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Sep 16, 2015

    A decision by the Oklahoma Board of Corrections will save the state millions of dollars over the long run and may provide for a safer work environment for men and women charged with monitoring prison inmates. In the view of one critic, however, this move will mean certain disaster for Oklahoma. The corrections board, at the urging of Gov. Mary Fallin, voted last week to allow inmates convicted of “85 percent” crimes to earn good-behavior credits from the start of their confinement. For many years, these credits weren't allowed to accrue until the inmate had completed at least 85 percent of the sentence. Consequently, many wind up serving more than 90 percent of their time before being released.

  • Glossip's actions hardly paint picture of innocence

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Sep 15, 2015

    IF nothing changes, Richard Glossip will reach the end of the line Wednesday and be executed for his role in the murder of Oklahoma City motel owner Barry Van Treese. This will upset death penalty opponents, who have made Glossip a national poster child for their cause. We understand those who oppose the death penalty for anyone based on moral objections. In the Glossip case, many supporters insist he's innocent. Yet the reason Glossip's execution is likely to occur as scheduled is because those arguments are largely based on the idea that you can't trust the word of someone serving a life sentence for murder, but can unquestioningly believe the word of someone on death row for murder.

  • Company has provided Sonic boon for Oklahoma City

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Sep 15, 2015

    TIME flies when you're selling burgers and fries. The Sonic Drive-In chain is now as old as people who've reached Social Security eligibility. Sixty-two years ago, in 1953, company founder Troy Smith Sr. opened a hamburger and root beer stand in Shawnee. It was called the Top Hat Drive-In. Six years later, a Top Hat in Stillwater was rebranded as a Sonic, the first of its name. That site on Main Street in Stillwater is still in business. In fact, it's been renovated. The store reopened this month in a celebration of Sonic's heritage. Much has been written in praise of Oklahoma-based businesses that are excellent corporate citizens — companies such as Devon, Continental Resources, OG&E, Love's and numerous others.

  • Upset in Oklahoma House race highlights the importance of voting

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Sep 14, 2015

    IN a surprise victory last week, Democrats won a special election in a state House seat long held by Republicans. Shifting demographics may have played a role, but the vote result also owed much to a simple fact: On a nontraditional election day, Democratic voters turned out and Republican voters didn't. That's no knock on Democrats, who did what it takes to win. But this election also highlights the continuing problem of voter apathy. In a district with 23,949 registered voters, only 4,908 cast a ballot — or roughly one in five. House District 85, based in Oklahoma City, became vacant upon the death of incumbent Rep. David Dank, a Republican. The resulting special election involved a July primary and a Sept. 8 general

  • Trying something new in Oklahoma's prisons

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Sep 13, 2015

    SOME policymakers in Oklahoma are looking for ways to be “smart on crime” instead of continuing the status quo — see Gov. Mary Fallin's move, adopted by the corrections board last week, to let inmates who must serve at least 85 percent of their sentence accrue good-behavior credits throughout their imprisonment, instead of waiting until the 85 percent threshold has been reached. Meantime, the head of the state's prison system is exploring ways to be “smart on corrections.” A new pilot project offers an example.

  • Solid footing needed for Insure Oklahoma program

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Sep 13, 2015

    IF Insure Oklahoma needs a specialty advertising item to promote the program, we suggest skipping the ballpoint pens or calendars and going right to the yo-yo.  It seems apt for a program that's had so many ups and downs. Instead of giveaways, Insure Oklahoma officials have launched a $450,000 media campaign to counter a five-year decline in enthusiasm for a program that helps provide health insurance coverage for the working poor. A tobacco tax increase approved by voters in 2004 kicked off a visionary plan to provide coverage with financial support from taxpayers, employers and the workers themselves. The aim was to get more working Oklahomans off the list of the uninsured.

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: 8-year transportation plan reflects clear progress

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Sep 12, 2015

    THE new eight-year construction plan from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation is ambitious — they always are — and indicates just how successful this program has been. The early focus, with good reason, was on reducing the number of bad bridges on the state highway system. When the eight-year plans began about a decade ago, Oklahoma ranked at or near the top of states with the most structurally deficient bridges. That's no longer the case. The number of such bridges had shrunk to 372 by the end of last year, from a high of 1,168 in 2004.

  • Good news resulting from Oklahoma work comp reform

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Sep 11, 2015

    THE law that changed Oklahoma's workers' compensation system has been challenged in court on many fronts by those who prefer the adversarial, attorney-dominated system that was in place for so many years. Yet there are clear signs the new administrative system is working. The clearest comes in a report from the National Council on Compensation Insurance, which filed an overall loss cost, or claim expense, decrease of 14.8 percent for Oklahoma. This marks the third straight year of declines in this important indicator — by a total of 37.2 percent according to state Insurance Commissioner John Doak.

  • Many consumers will suffer from looming Obamacare tax

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Sep 11, 2015

    BACKERS of the Affordable Care Act claimed the law would increase citizens' financial security, but one provision is predicted to dramatically reduce the ability of many middle-class families to cover unexpected medical expenses. Many employers provide workers the option to set up flexible spending accounts or health savings accounts in which people save money tax free for medical expenses. The cash in HSAs also rolls over from year to year, allowing families to build up a nest egg for use in the event of a major surgery. Yet Obamacare may soon make those accounts a thing of the past.

  • In effort to reduce poverty, wage subsidy worth debating

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Sep 10, 2015

    ANY policy proposal that discomfits liberals and conservatives alike (for different reasons, of course) could well be a proposal worth debating. One such proposal is the wage subsidy. It's a means of helping Americans in lower-income jobs without the artifice of minimum wage laws. It's also an alternative to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and a vehicle for reducing federal outlays for welfare programs. The flip side is that taxpayers would help pay the wages of some Americans, directly and perpetually. But middle-class Americans who pay most for welfare programs are already paying, indirectly and perpetually. Middle-class earners don't generally benefit directly from welfare programs. They're adversely affected by

  • Bogus assumptions helped drive prairie chicken regulations

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Sep 10, 2015

    A federal judge has ruled that the Obama administration's efforts to declare the lesser prairie chicken “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act were done “arbitrarily and capriciously.” That conclusion isn't shocking given this administration's track record. The ruling by Robert A. Junell, a Texas district judge, is a victory for Oklahoma. Had the chicken been declared “threatened,” economic activity in much of the state would have been severely curtailed. Before making a “threatened” declaration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must review state-level conservation efforts to determine if they negate the need for federal intervention. Oklahoma and four other states are already implementing a

  • Oklahoma reading law continues to reap benefits

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Sep 9, 2015

    WHEN state lawmakers voted to require that third-grade students be retained if they don't demonstrate a minimal level of reading skill, critics derided the law, claiming it would do little to improve academic performance while demoralizing children. The results continue to prove those critics wrong. Under Oklahoma's reading law, third-grade students must show they can read at a second-grade level or better on a state test before being promoted to the fourth grade. Students reading at a first-grade level or lower must repeat the third grade. The mandate has been in effect for students taking tests since spring 2014. Keep in mind, students who fail the initial state test can still be promoted.

  • State chairman's resignation will allow Oklahoma GOP to start over

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Sep 8, 2015

    WITH Randy Brogdon's brief and tumultuous time as Oklahoma Republican Party chairman coming to a close, the party needs to look for a leader who can appeal to a broader spectrum of Republicans. Brogdon announced last week that he would be stepping down and called for a State Committee Meeting to be held Saturday in Tulsa to select a new chairman. The move surprised many, but it stands to benefit the party. Brogdon is a hard-right Republican who embraced the tea party movement when it swept across the country in 2009. Some would call him extreme — indeed in an interview in 2010, Brogdon said he supported creation of a state militia to protect Oklahoma against an overreaching federal government (he later softened

  • Close attention warranted for EPA's new ozone rule

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Sep 8, 2015

    IT'S difficult to keep track of the many ways the Environmental Protection Agency under the Obama administration is working to make life more difficult and costly for Americans. One plan to pay attention to involves ozone regulations. This proposed rule hasn't garnered as much attention as, say, the EPA's Clean Power Plan, which seeks to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. Energy produced from fossil fuels is the main target of that plan; naturally, Oklahoma oil and gas companies are concerned about the CPP's impact. New ozone regulations, if approved, would cut a much broader swath through the economy.

  • Labor Day: Obama hasn't given workers much to cheer

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Sep 7, 2015

    “PICNIC” is a three-act play taking place in a 24-hour period, Labor Day, in a small Kansas town. As the William Inge drama ends, its two principal characters are headed for Oklahoma in hopes of a better life. Labor Day is a national holiday with undercurrents of the same theme — hope for a better life. But this Labor Day, like the seven or so before it, is no picnic for the millions of Americans who can't find full-time employment. So began an editorial we have published or adapted for four consecutive Labor Days. We do so again today, despite the fact that the U.S. economy (if not the Oil Patch) is demonstrably better off than it was the past seven or so Labor Days. Unemployment is 5.1 percent. In 2011, it averaged

  • Fewer hypotheticals needed in Oklahoma asset forfeiture debate

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Sep 6, 2015

    AS we've said before, the ongoing debate over civil asset forfeiture is legitimate. But it needs to be driven by facts, not hypothetical scenarios or conjecture. In Oklahoma and elsewhere, law enforcement officials can seize money and property they believe are linked to criminal activity, particularly drug trafficking. Critics say this leads to abuses where money is seized from innocent citizens to pad the budgets of law enforcement. But police say asset forfeiture deprives drug traffickers of their profits even in situations where officers aren't otherwise able to advance prosecutions.

  • Ending birthright citizenship could impact many citizens

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Sep 6, 2015

    THE cause of ending birthright citizenship under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution is once again gaining advocates. Even if that change didn't require a constitutional amendment — a steep climb — there's good reason to shelve this proposal: It would also require a far bigger, much more intrusive government impacting all people, not just immigrants. The 14th Amendment declares, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.” That has long been understood to confer citizenship on anyone born on U.S. soil with the exception of children of foreign diplomats or invading armies.

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: Math work in OKC school district is paying off

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Sep 5, 2015

    LARGE gains made in math scores by Oklahoma City Public School students underscore three things. One is that testing matters. Many in the education field complain about the amount of testing being conducted in Oklahoma schools, saying teachers are being made to “teach to the test.” Yet testing is crucial in providing a gauge as to how well students are progressing in the important core subjects. Another takeaway is that Oklahoma City public school students will succeed if given the opportunity and the tools. A large majority of the district's students qualify for free or reduced-price meals; English is a second language for many. These present significant challenges. Yet districtwide, seventh- and eighth-graders improved

  • Rally shines a light on issue that needs it

    The Oklahoman editorial | Published: Fri, Sep 4, 2015

    MOTOR vehicle accidents take hundreds of lives in Oklahoma every year, which is one reason why newspapers and other media outlets regularly report on them. Readers and viewers can relate — after all, so many people drive the state's roads and highways every day for work or pleasure. Yet we hear far less about a greater killer: drug overdoses, particularly those involving prescription drugs. The lower profile is understandable, given that these deaths generally occur in private settings and family members are reluctant to let others know that an overdose is what claimed their loved one.

  • Extreme rhetoric, violent acts against police need to end

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Sep 3, 2015

    A horrific example of the tensions that linger between police and the black community was seen last month in Birmingham, Ala., where a detective was beaten with his own gun. The alleged assailant, a black man, is accused of taking the detective's gun during a traffic stop and striking him in the head until the officer stopped moving. The man, Janard Cunningham, then took to Twitter to brag: “Pistol whipped his a-- to sleep,” with a vile hashtag included. It was some boast. The detective offered no resistance — authorities said he chose not to because he didn't want to be accused of racism. This is what has developed in the past year, since the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., touched off violent protests