• Probation isn't sufficient punishment for corruption

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

    A three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver has upheld the conviction of former Oklahoma Senate leader Mike Morgan and ordered his resentencing, likely to a “significant period of incarceration.” This is important not for the impact on Morgan, but the message sent: No one is above the law. Morgan, D-Stillwater, was convicted by a jury of accepting $12,000 in bribes to influence legislation impacting assisted living centers in 2007. At that time, Morgan was president pro tem of the Senate. Guidelines allowed a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. In 2013, Morgan was sentenced to five years of probation. In making that decision, U.S.

  • State could use review of Oklahoma medical licensure board processes

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

    REPORTS that Gov. Mary Fallin intervened in an investigation of the state's medical licensure board, effectively telling board members to either fish or cut bait, have prompted predictable, partisan outcry. But what's truly disturbing is evidence that the board's investigation was legally problematic and badly botched from the outset. In 2010, the Oklahoma Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision launched an investigation of Dr. Steven Anagnost, a Tulsa spinal surgeon. Anagnost was accused of violations involving 23 patients. Among other things, he was accused of bungling surgeries so badly that patients were left paralyzed or dead; of charging for surgeries he did not perform; and of implanting a spinal device he was paid to

  • Another reason to hope Republican wins in 2016

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Updated: Wed, Nov 11, 2015

    PRESIDENT Barack Obama's announcement Friday that the Keystone XL pipeline won't get built on his watch is just one more reason for Americans — particularly those who live in energy-producing states such as Oklahoma — to hope that a Republican wins the White House in 2016. The GOP candidates understand that building this pipeline would be a net positive and that continuing to include fossil fuels as part of an overall energy strategy is a responsible way forward. The president doesn't believe that, as he made clear Friday. He made sure to point out that shipping “dirtier crude oil” into this country wouldn't increase U.S. energy security. He called fossil fuels “dirty” again in the next sentence.

  • Sensible government reforms often met with swift rebuttals

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

    FEW doubt that Oklahoma state government is inefficient. Yet even the most seemingly common-sense reforms are met with swift condemnation. Given the serious budget shortfall facing the state, such knee-jerk opposition must end. No proposal is exempt from serious review, and constructive criticism must always be welcomed. But Oklahoma officials shouldn't oppose change simply because it requires change. Consider the idea of allowing the governor to appoint more heads of state agencies and commissions, a proposal recently studied by state senators. The directors of many agencies are appointed by boards and commissions.

  • Work to make Oklahoma state government more transparent is an ongoing struggle

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

    NO one who's paid any attention should be surprised that Oklahoma fared poorly in a nationwide study of government transparency. The fight for more openness throughout government has been ongoing for years. In its new study, which looked at how states have implemented laws and practices meant to keep residents informed, the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity gave Oklahoma an F grade. We were one of 11 states to score so poorly. The center's researchers were hard on most states. Indeed only three earned a grade better than D-plus. The highest grades went to Alaska (a C), California (C-minus) and Connecticut (C-minus).

  • Voters would benefit from a less crowded GOP debate stage

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

    IN Milwaukee on Tuesday night, eight Republican presidential candidates will gather in prime time to debate issues of the day. This is two fewer than in the previous debates, which will give these contenders a bit more elbow room to fight for the time needed to make their point or issue a rebuttal. It's a messy, inexact way to help determine which man or woman is best suited to carry the GOP standard in 2016. Sure, some candidates (Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina) have benefited from their debate performances, and others (Jeb Bush most recently) have not, but the unwieldy nature of these debates can make for less-than-productive outcomes, for the candidates and voters.

  • Many Oklahoma lawmakers don't wait for term limits to kick in

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

    CRITICS of Oklahoma's term-limits law claim it robs voters of the chance to send experienced, knowledgeable policymakers to the Oklahoma Capitol. But in many cases, legislators choose to take their bows before being termed out. Lawmakers' self-imposed limits have proven as impactful as legal term limits. Rep. Mark McCullough, R-Sapulpa, is among those opting to leave before hitting the 12-year maximum allowed under term limits. First elected in 2006, McCullough could have served through 2018. Similarly, Rep. James Lockhart, D-Heavener, isn't seeking re-election next year. Lockhart was first elected in 2010 and could have served through 2022. The stereotype holds that politicians willingly give up power only when forced

  • Oklahoma lawmakers tackling serious topics with interim studies

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

    OKLAHOMA lawmakers have been conducting serious business at the Capitol in recent months. Here's hoping that continues through the 2016 session, when all too often time is wasted on peripheral issues intended to do little more than score political points. Many of the interim studies held throughout the fall involve matters that potentially could benefit taxpayers. A few lawmakers even broached the idea of consolidation in looking at ways to get more bang for taxpayer dollars. Rep. Mike Christian, R-Oklahoma City, a former highway patrolman, wants to consolidate some functions of the Department of Public Safety, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. The three

  • A review of state, federal mental health laws is justified

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

    NUMEROUS acts of violence committed nationwide by individuals with untreated mental illness have prompted state and federal officials to consider making it easier to force those individuals into treatment. We hope those efforts succeed. Members of the Oklahoma Senate recently discussed allowing courts to order adults with serious mental illness to be placed in outpatient treatment when those individuals have refused to take medication. Under existing state law, such orders can be issued only when a person has first been hospitalized at an inpatient psychiatric facility. At the federal level, Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa.

  • Some perspective warranted over length of Clinton inquiries

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Updated: Sat, Nov 7, 2015

    A pattern of “secrecy, deception and disdain for the law.” That's what a partisan congressional panel concluded about a person with close ties to the White House. Hillary Clinton and her emails? Nope. It was Ronald Reagan and the Iran-Contra affair in the 1980s. While much is made of the endurance race Clinton ran last month in a hearing that stretched over 11 hours, some perspective is needed. The Iran-Contra probe ran for nearly seven years and resulted in no convictions of the major players that would stand up on appeal. The Democratic Congress in 1987 all but said Reagan was behind the illegal arming of Nicaraguan freedom fighters, but proof was lacking.

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: Report defuses smart meter critics

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

    A handful of consumers oppose installation of utility smart meters in their homes due to alleged negative health impacts caused by electromagnetic frequency (EMF) radiation. Yet their requests to maintain older analog meters would have resulted in exposure to higher levels of EMF radiation. In a recent report, Oklahoma Corporation Commission Administrative Law Judge Ben Jackson wrote that, “By nature, any device that draws electric current emits EMF. The requested analog meters emit EMF, and the public comments overlook that the proposed digital meters will reduce the low-frequency EMF compared with the electromagnets on an analog meter.

  • Prison phone rates should be a local issue

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

    RELATIVES of those in Oklahoma jails and prisons often gripe about being charged exorbitant rates for brief phone calls to their loved ones. Yet one can sympathize with those complaints and still disagree with the Federal Communications Commission's decision to unilaterally cap prison phone rates nationwide. This is not an issue where “one size fits all.” Also, the unintended consequences of the FCC's decision could negatively impact the inmates it is supposedly designed to benefit. The FCC has limited the amount that can be charged for a prison phone call to $1.65 for 15 minutes. That's 45 percent lower than the $3 rate that was typical in Oklahoma. This pleases inmates' families who argue they cannot afford

  • New OKC turnpikes aimed at easing growth pains

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

    THREE years ago, state transportation Secretary Gary Ridley said there were no plans for the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority to incur further bonded indebtedness, but he didn't rule it out, either. “In our business, you have to look long term,” Ridley said. This is what the OTA is doing in announcing plans for six major turnpike projects, including two that will mean new toll roads in the Oklahoma City metro area. One of those turnpikes will be a 21-mile stretch of highway running from Interstate 40, east of Tinker Air Force Base, to Interstate 44 (the Turner Turnpike). The other is a 7-mile project that will connect the Kilpatrick Turnpike, which now ends at I-40 in western Oklahoma County, to State Highway 152/Airport Road.

  • Crowded field is one of many challenges facing GOP hopefuls

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

    IT took just one debate to essentially clear the field in the race for the Democratic nomination for president. Two of the four men on stage that night with Hillary Clinton dropped out soon after, and her only real challenger, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, gave Clinton a memorable pass on her shady email practices as secretary of state. It won't be long before former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley falls by the wayside, and soon enough Clinton will roll over Sanders. This will leave the Clinton political machine with ample time to sharpen her message and fill her campaign account as Republicans wade through a crowded field to settle on a candidate.

  • U.S. could use realistic, welcoming immigration policies

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Updated: Wed, Nov 4, 2015

    FOREIGN-born immigrants are flocking to Texas in search of job opportunities and a better life. But these immigrants aren't coming from south of the border. They're coming from the east, west and north — and they're coming from other U.S. states rather than from the countries of their birth. Texas leads the nation in the growth of its foreign-born population because more immigrants are relocating from California, Florida, Illinois and New York, according to a report by the Texas Office of the State Demographer, as cited this month by stateline.org. The influx is yet another verification of the so-called Texas economic miracle.

  • Contract 'preferences' serve to raise costs for taxpayers

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Nov 4, 2015

    UNDER existing law, Oklahoma government awards contracts to firms found to be the “lowest and best competitive bidder.” In April, the Legislature voted to alter that practice and instead provide preference to local companies on some occasions where they aren't the lowest bidder. Gov. Mary Fallin vetoed that bill. A new working paper from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University highlights the wisdom of Fallin's decision. “Protectionism Among the States: How Preference Policies Undermine Competition,” by researchers Adam J. Hoffer and Russell S.

  • Survey shows disconnect between OKC school district and its teachers

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Nov 4, 2015

    WHEN people are asked their opinions and guaranteed anonymity, when they know their answers won't come back to bite them, they tend to say exactly what's on their mind. Thus, what Oklahoma City public school teachers said on a recent survey should be of considerable concern to district administrators. The Oklahoma City American Federation of Teachers, the union that bargains on behalf of 2,800 local teachers, conducted an anonymous survey over a 10-day span in October. The union received responses from 836 teachers. The overarching message: Current disciplinary efforts instituted by the district aren't working.

  • Reading scores show Oklahoma retention policy working

    The Oklahoma Editorial | Published: Tue, Nov 3, 2015

    WE'VE had reason to criticize the state of education in Oklahoma, so it's a pleasure when we can highlight improvement. That's the case with the recent release of the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress reading scores, which showed Oklahoma experienced the third-largest gain nationally in fourth-grade reading scores. We only hope lawmakers will now protect the reforms that made this improvement possible. In 2011, at the prompting of Gov. Mary Fallin and then-state schools Superintendent Janet Barresi, the Legislature passed a law requiring students to repeat the third grade if they read at a first-grade level or lower. Status-quo forces vocally opposed the retention law, which took full effect for students taking tests

  • Support keeps growing for liquor law changes in Oklahoma

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Nov 2, 2015

    IF public opinion truly matters in the political arena, then Oklahomans will have the opportunity next year to reform the state's highly restrictive, and occasionally bizarre, liquor laws. A new poll conducted by Cole Hargrave Snodgrass and Associates Inc. on behalf of The Oklahoman finds 63 percent of registered voters (an all-time high) want to liberalize Oklahoma's liquor laws while just 29 percent oppose change. Majorities in all age groups endorsed liquor law reform, although support was strongest among younger voters and opposition greatest among those age 75 and older. Majorities of Democratic and Republican primary voters favored changing liquor laws. This is a rare issue where people on all ends of the political

  • Now on the books in Oklahoma, anti-texting law has potential to save lives

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Nov 1, 2015

    THE Legislature this year passed a raft of laws that take effect Sunday. None may be more important than House Bill 1965, which bans text-messaging while driving. It took six years of work by supporters, but this year they finally succeeded in getting members to see the merits of this law. Sadly, the real eye-opener for lawmakers was an accident in January that killed one Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper and injured another. Troopers Nic Dees and Keith Burch were investigating an accident on Interstate 40 east of Shawnee when they were struck by a vehicle. The driver was using a mobile device at the time. Dees was killed. Burch suffered serious injuries. Three weeks later, the state House of Representatives