• As 2015 session begins, big picture should be focus for Oklahoma lawmakers

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Updated: Fri, Jan 30, 2015

    Leave the pandering, frivolity aside

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: Lawmakers should let cities, counties craft their own laws

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Jan 31, 2015

    WHEN the topic is education, Republican lawmakers in Oklahoma are quick to say local school boards are best-equipped to handle their business. On other issues that arise, such logic goes out the window. Last year, the GOP-controlled Legislature approved, and Republican Gov. Mary Fallin signed, a bill that prevents municipalities from setting their own minimum wage standards. This year, lawmakers want to keep cities from banning drilling within their limits. At least eight bills, all of them with Republican sponsors — including one each by the House speaker and Senate president pro tem — have been filed that would stop cities and counties from banning drilling. Local communities would still be allowed to impose limits on

  • Ideas to improve voter turnout merit Oklahoma lawmakers' attention

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Jan 30, 2015

    STATE Sen. David Holt, concerned that voter participation in Oklahoma has slipped through the years, has presented a raft of ideas to stem that tide. His colleagues at the statehouse should give his suggestions their attention. Low voter turnout was part of the story of the November midterm elections, which in Oklahoma included the governor’s race. Only 41 percent of eligible voters took part. Since 1994, Oklahoma has added about 650,000 people. Yet voter registration has barely budged, moving from 1,966,273 registered voters in 1994 to 1,978,812 two decades later. Holt notes that about one-third of Oklahomans who are eligible to vote aren’t registered to do so. As for voter turnout, many factors contribute.

  • Male-female wage gap often reflects career choices

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Jan 30, 2015

    IF a man and a woman have the same qualifications and work at the same job, they should get the same pay. That view is shared almost universally. Yet new data from the U.S. Department of Labor shows Oklahoma has one of the largest “wage gaps” between men and women. Does this mean Oklahoma employers discriminate against women? Not necessarily. According to the Department of Labor, the median weekly pay for Oklahoma women who work full time was $591 in 2013, compared with $756 for men. Nationally, Oklahoma tied with Louisiana for the lowest median weekly earnings for women. Yet that data doesn’t mean Oklahoma employers routinely pay female employees substantially less than male counterparts doing the same job.

  • Oklahoma must forge new course on corrections

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Jan 29, 2015

    DURING a recent discussion about whether significant criminal justice reform could happen in Oklahoma in 2015, state Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman said he hoped so. “I think we ought to look to Texas as a model,” Bingman said. Yes, look to Texas. No state in America may have a more pronounced law-and-order image, and yet lawmakers there — Republican lawmakers — finally came to realize that spending more money to warehouse prisoners wasn’t the best fiscal or moral policy.

  • Oklahoma acted properly in asking for execution stays

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Jan 28, 2015

    Issue regarding drug mixture needs clarification

  • Liberal policies not aiding the middle class

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Jan 28, 2015

    SIX years too late, President Barack Obama is proclaiming his concern for middle-class families. Politically, that makes sense: The middle class has been losing financial ground throughout Obama’s presidency. But a new analysis suggests the middle class has suffered the most in states that adopt the liberal policies Obama espouses. Officials at 24/7 Wall St., a financial news and opinion company, examined U.S. Census Bureau state data on the average pretax income earned by each income quintile. The middle class, for the study’s purposes, included those in the third quintile, the middle 20 percent. Nationally, from 2009 to 2013, top-quintile incomes increased by 0.4 percent, while the middle quintile’s incomes fell 4.3

  • Paying for expansion of Medicaid can't be forgotten in Oklahoma efforts

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Jan 27, 2015

    IN an issues brief focused on improving state health outcomes, The Oklahoma Academy has called for expanding Medicaid under Obamacare. But the academy didn’t address how to pay for expansion. That’s a major omission. In its latest report, the academy declared that it’s “overwhelmingly important” to the majority of its town hall participants that Oklahoma expand Medicaid or use federal-state Medicaid expansion funds to augment Insure Oklahoma. We agree that Insure Oklahoma has been an innovative alternative to traditional Medicaid expansion. It was designed to help small businesses offer private insurance to workers.

  • Oklahoma lawmakers should reject anti-business measure

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Jan 27, 2015

    STATE Rep. David Perryman, D-Chickasha, has filed legislation that would require Oklahoma corporations to obtain majority approval from shareholders before making political contributions. The bill addresses a nonissue: State law prohibits corporate political contributions. But even if that law were struck down, as Perryman suggests could happen, his bill should be rejected. Although many on the political left want to ignore this fact, politicians can negatively impact businesses by, say, creating unnecessary and expensive regulation. Thus, business officials must be involved in politics to preserve their company’s financial viability. This includes contributing to candidates who support pro-economic growth policies and opposing

  • As always, plenty of questionable bills filed by Oklahoma lawmakers

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Jan 26, 2015

    THURSDAY was the deadline to file bills to be considered during the 2015 legislative session. Thank goodness that’s behind us. This annual rite gives lawmakers a chance to tackle important issues and concerns to their constituents. Every once in a while, they actually do so. But all too often they file bills that are unneeded, or are intended to score political points, and/or stand to do little or nothing to move Oklahoma forward. An example this year is a bill that would let anyone 21 or older transport a loaded or unloaded pistol in car, without a gun license. Sen. Joseph Silk, R-Broken Bow, says a license isn’t required for residents to keep a gun at home, and “it should be the same way for your vehicle.

  • U.S. tax code shouldn't penalize stay-at-home moms

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Jan 26, 2015

    President sending mixed message with proposal

  • Balkanization of U.S. politics continues apace

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Jan 25, 2015

    TALK about your strange bedfellows. Liberals uneasy with states asserting their constitutional rights vis a vis the federal government have no problem with cities asserting their rights to do things the states won’t do. And some conservative Republicans who insist on states’ rights are fighting the desire by local governments to call any end-around plays aimed at state law. The liberal agenda, led by fracking bans, minimum wage increases, drone restrictions, mandated paid sick leave, etc., is on a roll at the local level. This is particularly true in states where Republicans control state government. The inconsistency of the liberal position is no better illustrated than in a unanimous U.S.

  • It's folly to ignore tax impact on drilling in Oklahoma

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Jan 25, 2015

    THE left-leaning Oklahoma Policy Institute would have us believe all that’s needed to provide huge increases in school funding is a tax increase on energy producers. But the assumptions built into the institute’s estimates are untethered from economic reality. Previously, the state levied a 1 percent gross production tax on horizontal wells for the first four years of operation. Subsequently, the rate rose to 7 percent, the same rate levied on other types of wells. During the 2014 legislative session, lawmakers voted to revise that tax structure. All wells are now taxed at 2 percent for the first three years of production; the rate increases to 7 percent thereafter. OK Policy was among those arguing for a 7 percent tax on

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: Term limit proposal worth watching

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Jan 24, 2015

    ARE Oklahoma’s 12-year term limits for state legislators too short? State Rep. Paul Wesselhoft believes the answer is yes, and he may have a point. Wesselhoft, R-Moore, filed a proposed constitutional amendment this week that would ask voters if they’d prefer 16-year term limits instead of what’s on the books now. Voters overwhelmingly approved the 12-year limits in 1990, with 2004 being the first year that lawmakers were forced out of office by term limits. More recently, voters approved a constitutional change limiting statewide office holders to eight years on the job. Clearly, Oklahoma voters like the idea of getting new blood into elective offices.

  • Forecasting oil prices isn't easy, but John Hofmeister gives it a shot

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Jan 23, 2015

    JOHN Hofmeister has an oil price forecast that energy firm shareholders will love and motorists will hate. Somewhere in the middle is the reality that ultra-low crude prices aren’t good for the overall economy and especially not good for Oklahomans. Hofmeister is a former president of Shell Oil Co. He recently told USA Today’s Bill Loveless that, later this year, oil prices will rebound to above $80 a barrel and gasoline prices will rise accordingly. So enjoy those sub $2-a-gallon gas prices while you can. The prognosticator could be wrong, of course. Saudi Arabia seems determined to break the backs of U.S. energy firms by keeping production high and contributing to the crude price plummet.

  • Legislation ignores violations of Oklahoma reading law

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Jan 22, 2015

    TWO state lawmakers want to continue allowing children who read at a first-grade level or worse to be promoted to fourth grade and beyond. But they want to require that those students be given the opportunity to attend summer reading academies. Nothing’s wrong with the reading academy idea; many schools already offer those programs. The bigger problem is that the legislation ignores the fact that many schools have failed to abide by existing law and severely neglected reading instruction. Sen. Ron Sharp, R-Shawnee, and Rep. Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, have filed a bill to make permanent a temporary program that allows promotion of functionally illiterate children when a panel of local school officials and the child’s

  • Much of the same, including the tone, in 2015 State of the Union speech

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Jan 22, 2015

    WRITING in 2013, columnist George Will touched on the spectacle that is the State of the Union speech. The Constitution, he wrote, says the president “shall from time to time” update Congress on the state of the union. It has instead become an annual “tawdry ritual of wishful thinking by presidents unhinged from political reality and histrionics by their audiences.” That pretty well sums up the 2015 version. Little in the one-hour speech constituted news, because Barack Obama had in recent weeks been laying out many of his proposals. And nothing about the speech constituted a departure in form for Obama, who struck a somewhat agreeable tone immediately following the bashing his party took in November’s midterm

  • Review of Oklahoma tax code holds promise, peril

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Jan 21, 2015

    STATE lawmakers are once again calling for a review of tax breaks to ensure they stimulate economic growth. This is justified. But too many similar efforts in past sessions have devolved into little more than political cash grabs that targeted middle-class families. House Speaker Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview, and members of his leadership team have indicated that serious tax-break review will occur this year. As in past years, the implication is that lawmakers will scour the tax code for breaks the public would consider “corporate welfare.” Rep. David Dank, R-Oklahoma City, has done yeoman’s work in identifying flaws with several existing tax breaks for businesses. In many instances, he’s made a credible case that

  • OKC police, public stand to gain from use of body cameras

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Jan 21, 2015

    Tool is gaining popularity nationwide

  • Low-income adults not served by punishing for-profit colleges

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Jan 20, 2015

    Obama administration has targeted these schools