• No good reason to oppose Education Savings Accounts in Oklahoma

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Feb 15, 2015

    VARIOUS groups want increased funding for kindergarten through 12th-grade schools this year. The harsh reality of the state’s budget situation makes meeting those demands near to impossible. Yet one proposal, creation of Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), could allow legislators to increase per-pupil funding without a dramatic spending hike — while also increasing children’s education options. This is a win-win for Oklahoma. Under bills filed by Rep. Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City, and Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, much of the per-pupil funding used to educate a child could instead be deposited in an individual bank account. Parents would be given a debit card and allowed to use that account to customize their child’s

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: Prescription drug bill far from perfect, but it's a start

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Feb 14, 2015

    ONE tenet of the sausage-making that goes on in the Legislature is that members shouldn’t let “perfect” be the enemy of “good.” This is the case with a prescription drug bill sought by Gov. Mary Fallin. The original goal was to require doctors to check the state’s online database of patient prescriptions each time they prescribed three classes of highly addictive painkillers. The intent is to curb prescription drug abuse in Oklahoma, which is a critical problem, and reduce the number of these pills in circulation — last year, 9.7 million prescriptions were written, enough to give 50 pain pills to every person in the state. Some doctors balked at the original proposal, and it stalled in 2014.

  • 'Fake news' anchors depend on the real stuff

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Feb 13, 2015

    What a week for journalism and “journalism.” First, NBC’s Brian Williams was taken out of the anchor’s chair for at least six months for embellishing a story about the Iraq war. Allegations continue to be heard that Williams has a history of coloring the news. Then Jon Stewart, anchor of “The Daily Show,” announced he’s leaving Comedy Central and his brand of “news” mixed with satire and commentary. Journalists rushed to defend Williams even as they distanced themselves from his problem with truthiness (to use a phrase coined by Stewart’s Comedy Central colleague, Stephen Colbert). Adulation for Stewart was over the top, but it’s hard to argue with his success.

  • Rough ride underway for OKC, but economy will turn around

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Feb 13, 2015

    THE Greater Oklahoma City Chamber’s annual economic forecast noted the cooling of the state’s economy after two years of post-recession growth. It said the oil and gas industry “moved aggressively to adjust to a new paradigm” and “shed jobs as workforces were realigned to meet the needs of future strategic operations.” Note: This forecast was the one the chamber issued for 2014, not this year. It was prepared at a time when oil prices were as much as twice what they are now. The shedding of jobs was strategic rather than necessary to remain solvent. As for 2015, the chamber said this month, expect “an economic shock from oil price fluctuations.” It’s already happening as the rig count falls and energy

  • Lawsuit over earthquake damage could shake up Oklahoma energy industry

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Feb 13, 2015

    Suing the makers of the fertilizer that Timothy McVeigh used to make a mega-bomb was the epitome of frivolous litigation. That’s not the case with an attempt to recover damages from the most powerful earthquake recorded in Oklahoma. Although we find the lawsuit filed against oil companies to be of questionable legal merit, it may not be completely frivolous. Indeed, the link between salt-water disposal wells and seismic activity is a burgeoning area of science. But it’s hardly settled science. Shortly after the modern era of earthquake swarms broke out in Oklahoma, some seismologists began studying the alleged link. Regulators, including the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, are taking the matter seriously. Last

  • No end in sight to the debate over wind power

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Feb 12, 2015

    THE days on end with relentless wind, a regular springtime occurrence in Oklahoma, are still some weeks away — or so we hope, given how dry it’s been. The debate over wind power, however, never seems to take a day off. Whether it’s the merits of a tax credit for wind energy companies, or the siting of turbines, or proposals to transmit wind from Oklahoma to other states, this issue remains aloft and will for a long time. A state lawmaker who has long called for his colleagues to revisit tax credits of all kinds made a passing reference to wind in a news release this week. Rep. David Dank, R-Oklahoma City, announced that his House subcommittee won’t hear bills on any measures that negatively impact the state budget.

  • Obama budget affects far more than the 'rich'

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Feb 12, 2015

    Local taxpayers, families will feel impact

  • Religious freedom requires defending minority faiths

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Feb 11, 2015

    ‘Muslim Day’ scheduled at Oklahoma Capitol later this month

  • Marriage still a proven way to health, happiness

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Feb 11, 2015

    IN a transparent attempt to link romance to commitment, various advocacy groups annually declare the week preceding Valentine’s Day to be “National Marriage Week.” Given the wealth of goods that marriage confers upon spouses and children, it’s a worthy observance — even if less noted than the warm, fuzzy holiday it anticipates. Consider: Married individuals have lower rates of mortality than unmarried individuals. They’re less likely to abuse alcohol or engage in other patently self-destructive behaviors, according to the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. They also report less depression, less anxiety and lower levels of psychological distress than those who are single, divorced or widowed.

  • What's new in schools is keyboard curricula

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Feb 10, 2015

    Typing is back. Didn’t know it had gone away? Nor did we. Texting isn’t so much typing as it is thumbing and putting words down in shorthand, to be read by someone who knows the code. Critics of standardized tests complain about “teaching to the test.” Now it appears that schools are teaching typing to take the tests. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday on the rebirth of typing classes, to prepare students to take standardized tests on computers rather than using paper and pencils. At a school in rural New Jersey, students are learning to type in kindergarten through fourth grade. “Because of testing,” teacher Patti Poff told the Journal, “we needed to do something a little more serious with

  • Repealing bad laws can be better than passing new ones

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Feb 10, 2015

    CALL it the nature of the beast: The first inclination of many lawmakers is to make new statutes. Yet in Oklahoma and elsewhere, economic opportunity would rise if legislators instead repealed old laws that are outmoded or overly burdensome. Stateline.org highlighted this problem in an article focused on 33-year-old Nivea Earl of Jacksonville, Ark. Earl recently opened Twistykinks, a hair braiding salon. The problem for Earl is that her hair braiding service is technically illegal. Arkansas law requires a cosmetology license to braid hair. To meet that requirement, Earl would have to take 1,500 hours of training, pass two exams and pay thousands of dollars to attend a cosmetology school. Those schools, stateline.org notes, don’t

  • Set your sights on a controversial war film

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Feb 10, 2015

    “American Sniper” has drawn more fire than a moving target. We’re addled by the controversy this movie has generated, mostly from surrender caucus leftists. The film is no more pro-war (or anti-war) than Clint Eastwood’s last foray into combat, “Flags of Our Fathers” in 2006. That film covered a key battle in World War II. (We suppose the surrender caucus would term that a “good” war.) Both movies show the horrors of combat and the effect that war has — mentally and physically — on those who actually fight. Chris Kyle’s story resonates with patriotic Americans because he was motivated by avenging attacks on U.S. embassies, the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Kyle’s skills at marksmanship

  • Recent court dispute highlights Oklahoma's mental health crisis

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Feb 9, 2015

    THE mental health crisis facing Oklahoma was made crystal clear last week in an Oklahoma County courtroom. With any luck, policymakers were paying attention. District Judge Ray C. Elliott threatened to have Terri White, the head of Oklahoma’s mental health agency, thrown in jail because an inmate who needed treatment hadn’t received it six months after it was ordered. “You don’t just get to ignore a court order,” Elliott scolded the agency’s general counsel, who represented White at a contempt-of-court hearing. Elliott’s frustration is understandable. Instead of being transferred to the Oklahoma Forensic Center in Vinita for treatment and evaluation to see if he could assist in his own case, Ricky Edwards had

  • EPA request another example of throwing logic out the window

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Feb 9, 2015

    Move intended to delay Keystone pipeline

  • Further income tax cut not on Oklahoma policymakers' radar

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Feb 8, 2015

    GOV. Mary Fallin talked about many things during her 2015 State of the State speech to the Legislature. Oklahoma’s personal income tax rate wasn’t one of them. Perhaps that’s instructive. For a time during her first term, Fallin urged her fellow Republicans who control both chambers to approve a plan that ultimately would eliminate the personal income tax. That didn’t materialize, but lawmakers did approve a bill that in January 2016 will cut the top rate to 5 percent from its current 5.25 percent. If future revenue growth meets certain benchmarks, another trigger will kick in that would push the rate down to 4.85 percent.

  • GOP doesn't need a repeat of 2012's “Let's Make a President!”

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Feb 8, 2015

    WHO’S in first? Mitt’s out, Jeb’s in. Mike, Chris, Rand, Scott and Ted are occupying a crowded green room, waiting for an announcer’s cue. The game show atmosphere of the 2012 Republican presidential campaign could happen again next year. But it doesn’t have to and we hope it won’t. The 2012 campaign featured 26 “debates” (and almost as many “first-tier” candidates!) starting well ahead of the initial caucuses and primary voting. For 2016, the Republican National Committee proposes a limit of seven. The 2012 version of “Let’s Make A President!” helped bounce hopeful Rick Perry when he uttered an unfortunate remark. But debates aren’t supposed to be about winnowing candidates down to

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: On importance of vaccinations, most Oklahomans get it

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Feb 7, 2015

    ON the importance of not smoking, or eating healthy foods, or getting enough exercise, too many Oklahomans don’t get it. The state regularly ranks toward the bottom of national health-related rankings. But when it comes to getting children vaccinated, most Oklahoma parents — unlike, apparently, some Republican politicians with designs on the presidency — do get that childhood vaccines are important, safe and necessary. According to the state Health Department, 96.4 percent of Oklahoma kindergartners had all their required shots when they arrived for the first day of the 2013-14 school year. State law requires these vaccinations unless an exception is granted for medical, religious or other reasons. The national median

  • No need to trim Oklahoma prosecutors' oversight

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Feb 6, 2015

    Safeguards shouldn’t be weakened

  • Oklahoma 'wetlands' regulations could have dramatic impact

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Feb 6, 2015

    WE’VE often noted that many federal regulations lack a foundation based on logic. Now, a proposed state environmental regulation may match the feds in damaging Oklahoma economic growth for no apparent reason. The Oklahoma Water Resources Board is considering new wetland regulations that could have a dramatic statewide impact. Among other things, it appears the rules would define dry land as “wetland.” Under existing state law, the definition of “waters of the state” is restricted to bodies of water. But under the proposed rules, that definition would include normally dry land where water may collect under certain circumstances.

  • Residents should hope new Oklahoma DHS program works as planned

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Feb 5, 2015

    IN Ohio, untangling federal money that had once been used for foster care and using it instead to help families in crisis has been a tremendous success. “Flexible spending has been an extraordinary boon to our state,” an Ohio children’s services official says. Could the same happen in Oklahoma? We certainly have our fingers crossed. So should all Oklahomans as the state rolls out its own flexible spending program later this year. Traditionally, the federal government has stipulated that most of the child welfare money it sends to states be used for programs that cater to children who’ve been removed from homes — for example, on foster care or adoption programs. Critics of this model say it tends to help keep