• Reasons for concern with Iran nuclear deal

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Jul 15, 2015

    PRESIDENT Barack Obama hailed the nuclear agreement reached Tuesday with Iran as a move in a “new direction.” Many critics feel it’s the wrong direction, and we share their concerns. The agreement will over time ease international sanctions levied against Iran in exchange for that country curbing its nuclear program. Obama said the agreement “is not built on trust, it is built on verification” and that the international community will have “24/7 access” to Iran’s nuclear facilities. Sounds encouraging. Yet the agreement says that as part of their monitoring duties, U.N. inspectors will be able to press for visits to military sites in Iran. That access isn’t guaranteed.

  • Oklahoma military installations enjoy welcome news, this time

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Jul 14, 2015

    MEMBERS of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation had a somewhat muted response to the news that Fort Sill will gain from a pending military restructuring that will produce deep cuts in other installations. We share their ambivalence. On the one hand, this is great news for Fort Sill and the Lawton area. The addition of 219 active-duty positions in the next two years will keep Fort Sill in a strong position going forward; its primary focus is on field artillery training and air defense artillery, or Fires. As a Fort Sill official put it, adding an air defense and field artillery battalion “will help Fort Sill continue to lead the future of Fires for the Army into the 21st century.” Given the alternative, this is a

  • California killing stirs needed debate over 'sanctuary cities'

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Jul 14, 2015

    “Sanctuary!” — Quasimodo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame Donald Trump reignited the debate over illegal immigration with his recent ill-tempered remarks. This did nothing but hurt Republicans overall as they seek to regain the White House. Meantime, controversy over the “sanctuary city” movement was reignited with a California murder. The outflow from this crime could mitigate Trump’s damage and its effect on the GOP next year. Trump’s comments were exploited by a media not inclined to like him or the Republican Party. But only some have been similarly exercised by the murder case. Sanctuary cities have been around for a while, but the case reopens debate on whether it’s prudent for local

  • National report gives Oklahoma government finances a high mark

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Jul 13, 2015

    OKLAHOMA lawmakers have slogged through several tough budget years, and officials predict next year won’t be much better. Yet a new national report suggests Oklahoma is among the better-run state governments, financially speaking. So things could definitely be worse. Research from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, authored by senior research fellow Eileen Norcross, ranks each U.S. state’s financial health based on short- and long-term debt and other key fiscal obligations, including unfunded pensions and health care benefits. Norcross concluded Oklahoma ranks ninth-best for fiscal solvency, outperforming every state in the region. The state fared well in several categories.

  • Change in Oklahoma's "85 percent" rule would be good step

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Jul 13, 2015

    WE’VE said it many times — working to effect reforms in Oklahoma's criminal justice system can be a trying exercise. A move suggested by the governor would turn the crank slightly in the right direction. Gov. Mary Fallin wants the state Board of Corrections to change its policy regarding inmates incarcerated for crimes that mandate they serve at least 85 percent of their sentence. This has drawn strong criticism from at least one member of the Legislature and some prosecutors. The board considered the move last week but took no action. Under the change, “85 percenters” would have the opportunity to earn good-behavior credits from the beginning of their sentence.

  • No shortage of issues to occupy Oklahoma's newest senator

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Jul 12, 2015

    JAMES Lankford was a quick study in the U.S. House of Representatives, rising to a leadership position after just a few years. Now Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, is boning up on life in the U.S. Senate, having won election last year to replace the retiring Tom Coburn. Coburn was a fiscal hawk who was never bashful about criticizing members of both parties for what he considered unnecessary spending and government waste. He also warned often about the loss of liberty stemming from an expansive central government. Lankford has concerns of his own, including about the detrimental effects of the Affordable Care Act and the potential negative fallout from recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions.

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: A confusing stance on water

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sat, Jul 11, 2015

    POLITICIANS aren’t necessarily known for consistency or logic, but state Rep. Jerry McPeak, D-Warner, has still managed to lower the bar. Basically, McPeak argues the state shouldn’t sell water for profit or give it away. That doesn’t leave many options. McPeak is upset that Gov. Mary Fallin and federal officials agreed to drill a well on the grounds of the Lexington prison and provide some of the water to roughly 90 homes in the surrounding community, an area plagued by poor water quality. A federal loan will pay to drill the well; user fees will repay the loan. McPeak complains this means officials will “take a natural resource and give it to the public without recovering anything but costs.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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