• Single event won't undo positive image Oklahoma has cultivated

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Mar 18, 2015

    FROM a purely historical, chamber of commerce perspective, the problem with Oklahoma’s image outside its borders was that the state had no image — neither good nor bad. Apart from a smattering of associations with cowboys and Indians, Rodgers and Hammerstein and success on the college gridiron, Oklahoma suffered from a form of anonymity. That’s all changed, thanks in large part to tornadic tragedies and a team called the Thunder. With nationwide exposure from a University of Oklahoma fraternity’s racist chant, worries are being expressed about the state’s image. Naturally, chamber of commerce executives are concerned that the Sigma Alpha Epsilon video will hurt the state’s efforts to attract new business.

  • Young, Norick, Cooper: Three giants of OKC will be missed

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Mar 18, 2015

    THE Oklahoma City that we boast about today wouldn’t have been possible if it hadn’t for men like Jim Norick, Stanton L. Young and Jackie Cooper. The deaths of these men in recent weeks provide a reminder. Norick, who died March 4 at age 95, served two terms as mayor — from 1959 to 1963, and again from 1967 to 1971. His years of service rubbed off on his son Ron, who as mayor led the fight for the first MAPS public works initiative. Passage of MAPS by city voters, of course, served as the catalyst for Oklahoma City’s ongoing renaissance. Yet the elder Norick had a substantial impact, too. During his first term as mayor, he took the lead on a project to build a pipeline from Atoka Lake to Lake Stanley Draper, which

  • Failure of Oklahoma Ten Commandments lawsuit a victory for legal sanity

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Mar 17, 2015

    A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a Ten Commandments monument at the Oklahoma Capitol was tossed recently because the plaintiffs lacked standing. While that ruling leaves unanswered the ultimate question of constitutionality, the case illustrates the ridiculous lengths some people will go to in order to be “offended.” In 2009, the Legislature authorized construction of a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the Capitol. We questioned the wisdom of that effort, since it would undoubtedly prompt lawsuits the state would pay to defend — with the success of any legal defense uncertain. Still, we expected any legal challenge would be far more substantive, and credible, than the one filed by Aimee Breeze

  • Why the message of Sunshine Week is important year-round

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Mar 17, 2015

    WHO cares whether Hillary Clinton used a private email server and email account during her four years as U.S. secretary of state? Certainly the media cares — thus the outcry in recent weeks after the off-the-books arrangement became public. But anyone concerned about how government operates should care, too. This openness — the ability for anyone in America, not just a member of the media, to get access to public records or to insist that meetings of public bodies be carried out properly — is a hallmark of this country but is also something that too many public officials wish wasn’t the case. Efforts to chip away at open records and open meeting laws are all too frequent, as are efforts to make the media or any citizen

  • Delay of further Oklahoma tax cut now pushed by both parties

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Mar 16, 2015

    DEMOCRATS recently attempted to delay a tax cut, but were rebuffed by their Republican colleagues in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. GOP members quickly issued a news release touting the vote as proof that Republicans are fully committed to reducing Oklahomans’ tax burdens. Despite that rhetoric, there’s reason for skepticism. Republican lawmakers have already considered legislation this session to delay another scheduled tax cut, potentially for years. Under current law, Oklahoma’s top income tax rate is scheduled to fall from 5.25 percent to 5 percent in January 2016. That cut was tied to a “trigger” requiring a certain amount of growth in the state’s general revenue fund. The growth target was met this

  • As infrastructure needs mount, Oklahoma lawmakers in no hurry to pass bond issues

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

    IN late November, the state’s Long Range Capital Planning Commission recommended that lawmakers give some thought to a $349 million bond issue to address what it identified as critical capital needs. At the ides of March, little to no follow-up has occurred. This should come as no great surprise, partly because lawmakers tend to focus on the here and now, not Oklahoma’s future concerns. The most pressing issue facing the 2015 Legislature is the budget, and how to make up for the roughly $600 million less to spend next fiscal year than was available for this fiscal year. Yet even if this weren’t a lean budget year, the planning commission’s suggestions would land with a thud because so many Republican members

  • Oklahoma marriage bill doesn't end state's role

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

    MANY Oklahomans have sincere, deeply held beliefs that lead them to oppose gay marriage. People holding such views, particularly when based on religious belief, are often wrongly maligned as bigots. In some instances, the legalization of gay marriage has placed those individuals in a position where they have to choose between abiding by their religious beliefs or tangentially participating in an activity they find morally wrong. House Bill 1125, by Rep. Todd Russ, was filed to address this problem. Russ, R-Cordell, says some court clerks object to issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, viewing that act as an effective personal endorsement of those marriages. His legislation would abolish state-issued marriage licenses.

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: Ballot access bill offers a change for the better

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

    OKLAHOMA could be on the way to losing its standing as a state with among the most restrictive ballot access laws in the country. The House of Representatives this week approved a bill by Speaker Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview, that would greatly reduce the amount of signatures needed for a third party to get on the ballot. Presently, a political party needs to collect signatures of registered voters equal to 5 percent of the last vote cast for the office at the top of the ticket. In presidential election years, that number is particularly large — it would have been about 66,700 after 2012. House Bill 2181 changes the threshold to 1 percent of the last gubernatorial election — or about 8,000 signatures, based on turnout from

  • In OG&E case, no need to account for a carbon tax

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

    TO comply with federal environmental regulations, officials at Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. expect they will have to spend $700 million. That sum, combined with the cost of replacing an outdated plant, is expected to increase the average residential customer’s bill 15 percent by 2019. That potential price increase has the attention of most observers. But not the Sierra Club. Instead, it’s perturbed that OG&E isn’t focused on a nonexistent tax. In its latest plan, OG&E assumed no carbon pricing in its base case for compliance options, a figure that tries to price the likely risk of future carbon legislation or rules. This upsets Sierra Club officials.

  • State Insurance Department shouldn't overreact on quake coverage claims

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

    RECENT comments by Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak suggest he believes insurance companies may be engaged in widespread exploitation of Oklahoma property owners without those alleged abuses prompting even a word of consumer protest. Doak may be addressing a potential insurance problem far in advance of public outcry. Or he may be making a mountain out of a molehill. Time will tell, but if the latter is occurring, Doak’s actions could indirectly increase compliance costs in Oklahoma — expenses that would be passed on to consumers through higher rates. In a recent bulletin sent to insurance companies, Doak discussed earthquake insurance coverage, particularly exclusions for man-made damage.

  • Hillary's performance doesn't inspire confidence in a potential president

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

    HILLARY Clinton put on her dancing shoes and did all she could to convince reporters, and potential 2016 voters, that nothing untoward played into her decision to use a personal email account while serving as secretary of state. It was just easier, that’s all. “I saw it as a matter of convenience,” Clinton said Tuesday of using one mobile device and a private email account. “I now, looking back, think it might have been smarter to have those two devices from the very beginning.” Of course she does, now that publicity about — and criticism of — the email account has boiled up and perhaps given Democrats a reason to think twice about handing her their nomination for president next year.

  • OKC now a magnet pulling residents, businesses to its center

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

    Oil price concerns are not slowing development

  • Bad bills impede all states' progress

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

    OFFICIALS with the Tulsa Regional Chamber recently suggested that various bills at the Legislature are harming the state’s national reputation and making Oklahoma look like a backward place. There’s some truth to that claim, although Oklahoma is hardly unique in that regard. Across the nation, politicians’ actions harm their state’s reputations. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision to ban fracking has led more than a dozen upstate towns to advocate secession from New York. Those communities would rather be part of Pennsylvania due to its increased economic opportunity. In 2013, voters in 11 Colorado counties actually voted on seceding from the state. The mostly symbolic measure passed in five counties.

  • We can all stand to learn something from OU fraternity video

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

    “YOU are disgraceful.” University of Oklahoma President David Boren summed it up pretty well Monday morning in his remarks at a protest and rally on campus following the release of a racist video involving OU students. Disgraceful, indeed. The cellphone video was made aboard a bus that carried members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity to a weekend event. The video, in which several young men take part in a truly vile song aimed at blacks, was released anonymously Sunday to The OU Daily, the university’s student newspaper, and quickly went viral. The video captures many of those on the bus singing, to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It.” Instead they sing, “There will never be a (N-word) in

  • Support for death penalty remains bipartisan in Oklahoma

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

    OKLAHOMA may have gained international notoriety for a botched execution last year, but Oklahomans remain firm in their support of the death penalty. A bipartisan, 85-10 legislative vote approving a new execution method makes that emphatically clear. House Bill 1879 by Rep. Mike Christian, R-Oklahoma City, would authorize the use of nitrogen hypoxia for state executions. Under current law, drug injection is the state’s first method of execution. That provision remains in place under HB 1879. But should that method be declared unconstitutional, or if the state is unable to obtain the drugs required, then nitrogen gas would be used. Under current law, electrocution is the fallback option, followed by firing squad.

  • Incompetence hardly a strong defense in Obamacare case

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

    CRITICS routinely argue that government programs are slapdash affairs, developed with little serious forethought or consideration for real-world consequences before being incompetently implemented and managed. So it’s ironic that the Obama administration now tacitly agrees with such critiques in its defense of Obamacare. The Affordable Care Act authorizes monthly tax credits to certain taxpayers who obtain insurance through an exchange. The law defines “coverage month” as any month a taxpayer is “covered by a qualified health plan ... that was enrolled in through an Exchange established by the State under section 1311.

  • Letting Oklahoma governor choose some agency, board directors is a conversation worth having

    The Oklahoma Editorial | Published: Mon, Mar 9, 2015

    OKLAHOMA government is known for having a large number of state boards and commissions. It’s also known for structuring those entities in such a way that they can be isolated from public pressure, potentially boosting inefficiency. One state lawmaker thinks that situation could be improved by allowing the governor to appoint the heads of many regulatory boards. That’s a conversation worth having. Legislation by Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, would give the governor the power to nominate the executive directors of 10 state entities. Those nominees would be subject to Senate confirmation.

  • Corrections reform is a difficult idea to sell to Oklahoma lawmakers

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

    Debate over ‘85 percent’ crimes is an example

  • Further evidence of need to end U.S. oil export ban

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

    Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm among those urging policy change

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: Bill could help make Oklahoma lakes more safe

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sat, Mar 7, 2015

    OKLAHOMA lawmakers have been loath to apply rules of the road, as they relate to alcohol consumption, to the state’s lakes. That may be about to change in one small way. The House of Representatives this week voted 93-0 for a bill by Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove, that would cost drunken boating operators their driver’s license for a time. This is an effort to crack down on the all-too-frequent practice of drinking to excess while at the helm. Intoxicated or not, a motorist driving with an open can of beer in his hand would be immediately taken to jail if caught. Drinking while operating a boat is perfectly legal, so long as the person’s blood alcohol concentration doesn’t exceed .08 percent.