• Careful study is required in debate over Oklahoma judicial reform

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Aug 21, 2015

    AN Oklahoma legislator who wants to do away with the board that recommends potential judges to the governor believes he has a glaring example of why change is needed, in a case from Pottawatomie County. But it appears the board was merely trying to doing its job responsibly. Rep. Kevin Calvey, R-Oklahoma City, is leading the push to get rid of the Judicial Nominating Commission. The JNC screens applicants when vacancies occur on state courts, including the Supreme Court, and submits three nominees to the governor. The JNC recently submitted only two names to Gov. Mary Fallin to fill a vacancy created by the retirement of a Pottawatomie County associate district judge. Both of the nominees are Democrats, which triggered harsh

  • Curbing seasonal workers not a fix for immigration

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Aug 21, 2015

    SOME Republicans want to not only reduce illegal immigration, but also cut back on legal immigration to the United States. Many who favor even more restrictive immigration policies argue a reduction in legal immigration will generate higher wages, particularly for low-skill, native-born workers in entry-level jobs. Those critics have it only half right. In agriculture, reduced immigration has raised wages, but the benefit has gone to the remaining immigrant laborers — because native-born workers still won’t take those jobs. Meanwhile, crops are rotting in the fields due to associated workforce shortages, increasing food prices for all.

  • Market forces at work as OKC continues to evolve

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Aug 20, 2015

    FOR historic or landmark buildings, the free market giveth and the free market taketh away. Away went the bombing-damaged downtown YMCA building and the dilapidated Stage Center. The market couldn’t find a way to save them. By contrast, the wholesale clearance of landmark Oklahoma City buildings in the 1960s and 1970s wasn’t entirely market driven. It was partly government policy styled as urban renewal. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. Imagine what could have become of some of the old hotels and movie palaces had a few years elapsed until a resurgence of interest in the urban lifestyle kicked in. Bricktown could have gone to the wrecking ball as well. But the timing was right for its emergence as an

  • Much to be gained by ending U.S. oil export ban

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Aug 20, 2015

    WHAT if a simple policy change could increase U.S. companies’ profits and drive down consumers’ costs? Repealing the ban on oil exports could do both. The economic case for repealing the 1970s-era export ban was recently reinforced by Frank Rusco, director of Natural Resources and Environment for the federal Government Accountability Office. In an appearance before the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture, Rusco summarized the GAO’s September 2014 findings from a review of relevant research and interviews of experts. The GAO concluded “removing crude oil export restrictions would likely increase some domestic crude oil prices, but could decrease consumer fuel prices …” That may sound counterintuitive.

  • Tom Cole: Appealing beyond base is key for eventual nominee

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Aug 19, 2015

    HILLARY Clinton has thus far done all she can to help the Republican Party win the presidency in 2016. The question now becomes, which of the many GOP candidates will emerge with the message and the backing to take advantage? That’s the condensed version of an assessment by U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, who has spent a lifetime in politics as a consultant, an elected state official and now as a member of Congress. Cole is a staunch conservative who naturally wants to see a Republican succeed Barack Obama in the White House, but his allegiance generally doesn’t cloud his vision. The hard truth, Cole said in a recent visit with The Oklahoman’s editorial board, is that the Republican Party has lost the popular vote in five

  • For teachers who prey on kids, punishment should fit the crime

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Aug 19, 2015

    THE attorney for a former Hollis teacher sentenced to 10 years in prison for having sex with a 15-year-old student says his client is shocked and considers her sentence “harsh.” What many Oklahomans may find stunning isn’t this sentence, but the short terms given other teachers who sexually exploited children. Jennifer Caswell pleaded guilty to six crimes involving sex with a Hollis student who was in the eighth grade when their relationship began. After the boy moved to Mississippi, Caswell was caught with him at a hotel there, which finally led to her prosecution last year. Caswell, now 29, later explained her actions by saying she was “in a very unhappy marriage and I received little to no attention from my

  • Questions result from rulings on Oklahoma 'special laws'

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Aug 18, 2015

    A judge’s decision declaring an abortion-drug law a “special law” in violation of the Oklahoma Constitution certainly disappointed those opposed to abortion on demand. But the ruling’s implications may extend further, even to the point of hindering efforts to combat drug addiction. Last week, Oklahoma County District Judge Patricia Parrish overturned a state law regulating use of some abortion drugs. The law required that abortion drugs be administered in accordance with U.S. Food and Drug Administration label instructions. Many of those drugs are now provided in ways that don’t comply with those guidelines.

  • For many, Obamacare’s costs are exceeding its ‘benefits’

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Aug 17, 2015

    PRESIDENT Barack Obama famously promised that if people liked their current insurance policies, they could keep them under the Affordable Care Act. That was quickly proven false as associated regulations forced cancellation of countless existing insurance plans. Obama then derided canceled policies as “substandard plans” that were now being replaced by “quality, comprehensive coverage.” It turns out this claim is just as false as his “you can keep it” promise. Under Obamacare, a growing share of lower-middle class families are being forced to purchase policies that provide little meaningful financial protection.

  • There's no going back on Oklahoma Capitol repair work

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Aug 17, 2015

    WHEN the Legislature, after years of dithering, finally got around in 2014 to approving a $120 million bond issue to repair the state Capitol, experts advised that the amount almost certainly wouldn’t be enough. Those warnings were on target. Like most any remodeling job, finishing on or under budget is rare. The fact that workers involved in the Capitol project would be dealing with a massive, nearly 100-year-old building made it an extreme long shot that $120 million would suffice. Initial work confirms that lawmakers will one day need to approve additional funding to finish the job. Reporters were given a tour last week of work being done on the third floor.

  • Challenging times for Oklahoma's energy producers

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Aug 16, 2015

    IF it cost you $10 to drive to a job that paid $11, would you do it? What if it paid $9? How about $10 — the break-even point? Independent energy companies are dealing with such a conundrum in the face of the lowest crude oil prices since 2009. From the standpoint of their quarterly financial statements, many of them aren’t breaking even. Nowhere near. Forget obscene profits, that talking-point term of liberals that hasn’t been heard much lately. It’s hard to find any profits at energy firms these days. So the break-even point is a major focus. It’s a matter of balancing costs with returns, which can mean an emphasis on the least risky drilling ventures, layoffs and other cost- cutting measures.

  • Some licensing regulations can get in the way of people working

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Aug 16, 2015

    BASED on Barack Obama’s record since becoming president in 2009, one might reasonably conclude there’s no level of regulation deemed excessive by his administration. But a new White House report questions the need for many occupational licensing restrictions. If even the Obama administration thinks these regulations are heavy handed, there’s no reason Republicans should hesitate to repeal and reform many occupational licensing laws. A blog post by Jeff Zients, director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, and Betsey Stevenson, a member of the Council of Economic Advisers, notes the problems created by excessive occupational-licensing requirements.

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: Nothing ordinary about handling of Keystone XL

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Aug 15, 2015

    THE Obama administration insists that it has followed standard procedure with its treatment of the Keystone XL pipeline, a project that has languished nearly seven years. A story this week from The Associated Press puts a sizable dent in that claim. Under an executive order issued by former President George W. Bush, which revamped a previous policy, any pipeline that crosses U.S. borders must get presidential approval. TransCanada Corp. wishes to run a pipeline from Canada to Cushing (the southern leg of the Keystone pipeline, from Cushing to the Gulf Coast, is completed). The AP studied every cross-border pipeline application since 2004 and found that, on average, the government took 478 days to approve or reject them.

  • Tinkering with voting rules a sure way to invite trouble

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Aug 14, 2015

    THE 1960s struggle for civil rights has morphed into a struggle to convince Americans that not much has changed since then — despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Thus it is that a Little Rock, Ark., rabbi could declaim there’s been “a tragic rollback of civil rights” in this nation. So moved is the man that’s he flying to Atlanta this month so he can walk 2.3 percent of an 860-mile “march” from Selma, Ala., to Washington, D.C. The NAACP is billing the event as “America’s Journey for Justice.” It’s designed to hook the interest of white liberals by adding standard labor union bait (minimum wage increases) and environmentalism to traditional civil rights platform planks. The timing is to

  • OKC police chief right to seek change in law

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Aug 14, 2015

    A police officer in Lawton is on administrative leave after allegedly showing up to work drunk. According to authorities, Sgt. Gabriel Hoffman’s blood alcohol content registered 0.23 — nearly three times the legal limit — when he blew into a breathalyzer after his arrest last weekend. He may or may not wind up being fired. If he is, there’s no guarantee it will stick. Mike Denton is an example. Denton was fired from the Owasso Police Department in 2011 for violating the department’s use-of-force policy. A video showed Denton stepping on the head of a man arrested for public drunkenness, and elbowing him in the face. The officer was reinstated by an arbitrator.

  • A taste of things to come from a Hillary presidency

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Aug 13, 2015

    AS the Republican Party puts 17 presidential candidates through the wringer on the way to choosing a nominee, Hillary Clinton goes about her business relatively unchallenged. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has made things interesting by polling well, but Clinton would seem to have little to worry about in the way of a real challenger. This will allow her to amass a huge campaign treasury and marshal the resources she will need for the general election campaign. While GOP candidates are made to defend or explain their positions on a variety of issues, on the campaign trail and in debates to come, Hillary can skate along secure in the knowledge that the Democratic nomination is hers for the taking.

  • Little good comes from severing pay, performance

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Aug 13, 2015

    THOSE obsessed with “income inequality” often suggest most of life’s woes could be eliminated if workers’ wages were arbitrarily and artificially boosted to high levels. Dan Price, head of a Seattle credit card processing firm, decided to put that theory to the test. It has since cost Price valuable employees and customers, and left his business less secure. That outcome isn’t shocking to those familiar with free-market forces and incentives’ impact on behavior. To establish a new minimum salary of $70,000 at Gravity Payments, Price cut his own million-dollar salary.

  • It's difficult to predict what juries will decide

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Aug 12, 2015

    IN November 2012, James Holmes walked into a crowded movie theater in a Denver suburb and opened fire, first with a shotgun, then with a semi-automatic rifle and a handgun. The result: 12 people dead, 70 injured. A dozen jurors spent more than four months listening to testimony in Holmes’ trial. In finding him guilty of murder, they rejected his insanity defense and determined he knew right from wrong. As they began deliberating the proper punishment, they agreed that the heinousness of the crimes outweighed his mental illness. These things indicated the jury would likely recommend the death penalty.

  • Water rule 'outreach' by EPA left much to be desired

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Aug 12, 2015

    MANY citizens think the deck is stacked against them when dealing with government regulators. The tactics of Environmental Protection Agency officials during the development of the new “Waters of the United States” rule show those critics have a point. That proposal will treat ditches and normally dry land as navigable waters under federal regulation, dramatically increasing federal power to impede local development and routine economic activity nationwide. When developing regulations, federal agencies are supposed to seek public input, particularly from those most affected. But information noted by Oklahoma’s U.S. senators shows the EPA’s outreach efforts were a farce. In a letter sent to the head of the EPA, Sens.

  • Pending Oklahoma execution drawing concern from out of state

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Aug 11, 2015

    AS the next execution in Oklahoma approaches, the governor’s office finds itself compelled to defend the process that resulted in the condemned man’s conviction. For that it can blame anti-death penalty groups, led in this case by actress Susan Sarandon. Last week Gov. Mary Fallin’s chief spokesman, Alex Weintz, used 10 Twitter messages to explain why Richard Glossip wound up on death row and why his execution will go forward Sept. 16. He took to Twitter, he said, because the governor’s office had been getting many questions about the case. Not coincidentally, Sarandon had recently given an interview to Sky News in which she said Glossip was “clearly innocent.

  • Action need to help resolve global-scale refugee crisis

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Aug 10, 2015

    PLANET Earth is teeming with displaced peoples. Call it global swarming. The number of refugees on the move or stuck in makeshift camps is staggering. The death toll among this population rises by the hour. Yet much of the developed world is barely attuned to the problem. In fact, Americans are much more aware of illegal immigration from a single country (Mexico) than they are the much larger migration of people from dozens of countries. Compared to this humanitarian crisis, the U.S. immigration matter seems relatively easy to fix. But of course simple solutions aren’t on offer — only politically charged ones.