• School tornado shelter petition likely not necessary

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Jul 11, 2014

    TAKE Shelter Oklahoma has launched a second initiative petition seeking a statewide bond issue for school shelter construction. The organizers hope raw emotion will carry the day, but the merits of the plan have weakened over time. The deaths of seven children at a Moore elementary school during the May 20, 2013, tornado understandably led to increased focus on school shelters. That year, Take Shelter Oklahoma, a group that includes some parents of the children who died, launched an initiative petition calling for a $500 million state bond to fund school shelter construction. The bond would have been repaid with franchise tax revenues diverted from the state’s General Revenue Fund. That initiative quickly bogged down in a

  • Congress needs to find permanent fix for Highway Trust Fund

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Jul 10, 2014

    OKLAHOMA lawmakers have worked hard over the past several years to improve the state’s roads and bridges. Those efforts could soon be set back by financial troubles in Washington, D.C. The U.S. Department of Transportation expects the roads portion of the Highway Trust Fund to run out of money in August unless Congress comes up with a way to keep it afloat. Most of the federal money doled out to states for their transportation needs comes from this trust fund, which is fed by federal taxes paid on gasoline (18.4 cents a gallon) and diesel fuel (24.4 cents). The amount going into the trust fund has been on a long downhill path, the result of better fuel efficiency for automobiles, fewer miles being driven by motorists, and

  • Oklahoma City area thrilled to see major championship golf return

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Jul 10, 2014

    IT’S been eight years since major championship golf came to the Oklahoma City area. We’re delighted it has returned with the U.S. Senior Open, which begins its four-day run Thursday at Oak Tree National in Edmond. Oak Tree hosted the 2006 Senior PGA Championship, ending a majors drought in these parts that extended to the 1988 PGA Championship. That event was won by Jeff Sluman, who’s among the 156 players in this week’s field and who says Oak Tree looks much as it did back then. That’s high praise because in the 1980s, Oak Tree was considered one of the best and most challenging courses in America. It went through a rough patch several years ago, but has rebounded under the ownership of Everett Dobson and Ed Evans,

  • Looking for fault as earthquake swarm continues in Oklahoma

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Jul 9, 2014

    NIMBY, meet NUMBY. As the swarm of earthquakes continues unabated in Oklahoma, the outcry that “Something must be done!” grows louder. A recent public forum on the topic didn’t bring out the pitchforks, but there was clearly a sentiment that recent seismic activity is man-made and the government simply must do something about it. Not In My Backyard is morphing into Not Under My Backyard. Regarding NIMBY, the windpower industry is getting greater resistance from landowners who don’t want turbines or the transmission lines that service them anywhere near their property. Windpower is an alternative energy source being encouraged by government policy, to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Such emissions lead to global

  • Naming of Oklahoma education board's director sends a contradictory message

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Jul 9, 2014

    THERE’s an old saying: Personnel is policy. The biases of policymakers ultimately determine what policies are advanced. Thus, it’s of concern that the new director of a panel charged with setting the passing grade for state tests has opposed efforts to raise the academic bar in Oklahoma. In 2012, the Legislature voted to create the Commission for Educational Quality and Accountability, largely combining the Commission for Teacher Preparation and the Office of Accountability into a single entity. The commission was granted authority to “set performance levels and corresponding cut scores” for state tests in public schools. (A “cut” score is the minimum grade required to pass.) Previously, cut scores were set by the

  • Definition of a 'public' college continues to change in Oklahoma, nationally

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Updated: Tue, Jul 8, 2014

    WHAT does it mean to be a “public” college? Once upon a time, it meant that states provided significant financial support, which kept a cap of sorts on tuition and fees paid by students and their families. That’s been less and less the case over the past several years. Recessionary measures included either higher education funding cuts or flat budgets. The latter served as an effective cut since fixed costs aren’t getting any cheaper. According to the College Board, increases in tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities from 2003-04 to 2008-09 went well beyond inflation. From 2008-09 to 2013-14, tuition and fee increases exceeded the inflation rate by a whopping 27 percent.

  • Obama, public at odds on the environment

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Jul 7, 2014

    PRESIDENT Barack Obama and congressional Democrats keep using “climate change” scaremongering to justify intrusive, economically destructive regulatory policies. Yet the public remains resistant to alarmist environmental hyperbole. New national polling by the Pew Research Center finds a substantial majority of citizens don’t buy environmental doomsday prophesies. The poll found that 17 percent of citizens believe there is “no solid evidence of warming” because it is “just not happening.” Another 17 percent feel there is no solid evidence because we “don’t know enough yet.” And another 18 percent believe warming is underway, but attribute it to “natural patterns.

  • With charitable giving, a little homework can come in handy

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Jul 7, 2014

    IN times of trouble, Americans tend to be a generous people. We lift up our neighbors — be they just down the street or thousands of miles away. Such generosity is often funneled through organized charities. Doing so allows donors to give in a way they feel is the most meaningful, with the assurance that contributions will be spent as intended. But technology has made it easier than ever to give through less official channels. Sad to say, bad actors can quickly quash the satisfaction donors receive from giving and could deter them from doing so again. What a vivid reminder we had of this lately. In June, a story about a young girl horribly scarred after a dog attack and subsequently kicked out of a national chain restaurant

  • Data continue to show worth of STEM curricula

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Jul 6, 2014

    HEY kids, even if you don’t plan to become a doctor, it might behoove you to pay attention during science class. Doing so could help land a good-paying job someday. A new report by the Brookings Institution highlights the benefit of doing well in STEM studies — science, technology, engineering and math. Jobs in those fields are the toughest to fill in the United States, researchers found. They also concluded that high school graduates with STEM backgrounds are in greater demand than those who earn college degrees in other areas. Researchers studied 1.1 million job openings posted by 52,000 companies during the first quarter of 2013, making it the largest study of its kind, author Jonathan Rothwell said.

  • In decrying Hobby Lobby decision, liberals ignore Obama's actions

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Jul 6, 2014

    THE liberal reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the Hobby Lobby case, which protected the religious freedoms of certain business owners, has been as predictable as it is asinine. The court, in the eyes of liberals, has declared another “war on women.” Yet if these liberal critics truly believe what they’re saying, we ask a simple question: Why aren’t they condemning President Barack Obama in equally vitriolic language? After all, the Obama administration has exempted millions of companies from having to provide abortifacients to female employees.

  • ScissorTales: A case that hurts corrections reform in Oklahoma

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Jul 5, 2014

    THE story of Albert Ray Johnson II is all it takes to stop in its tracks any talk of corrections reform in Oklahoma. Johnson, 47, was charged this week with first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree rape, forcible oral sodomy, forcible anal sodomy, kidnapping, assault and battery with intent to kill, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. The charges stem from the June 13 beating death of a woman and an attack on another, his live-in girlfriend. Authorities say Johnson forced his girlfriend to bring another woman to their house in The Village for sex. He is accused of raping both women and then beating them, one fatally, with such things as a trailer hitch ball and a clothes iron.

  • Lincoln, Reagan and the Fourth of July

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Jul 4, 2014

    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 Gettsyburg

  • Report cites success of Oklahoma road/bridge investments

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Jul 3, 2014

    FOR a time during the 2014 session, legislators toyed with the idea of peeling money away from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s long-range road and bridge repair fund and giving it to common education. A new report attests to the success of the state’s only-too-recent commitment to roads and bridges. The report by TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, outlines some of the gains made since 2005 when the Legislature ended two decades of neglect by approving a new funding formula for road and bridge repair. “By making this effort, Oklahoma has been able to reverse the deterioration of major roads, highways and bridges and has begun to improve traffic safety in the state by modernizing urban and rural roads

  • Lack of immigration reform hurts U.S. economy

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Jul 3, 2014

    FED up with U.S. House leadership’s refusal to produce an immigration reform bill this year, President Barack Obama says he’ll act on his own to fix what he can. Where have we heard this before? Obama has gone around Congress any number of times when he hasn’t gotten his way. We’ve lost count of his rewrites of Obamacare, and indeed just a few years ago he acted unilaterally on immigration. Many Republicans feel his executive order in that instance has contributed greatly to the large influx of children and teens arriving now from Central America. This surge of kids, some of whom are being housed at Fort Sill, has again placed U.S.

  • Constitutional lawsuits becoming common in Oklahoma

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Jul 2, 2014

    CALL it the rites of spring on righting constitutional wrongs. In what has become an annual tradition, the conclusion of Oklahoma’s legislative session is being marked by lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of new laws. In one case, a lawsuit is clearly warranted. But other lawsuits, if successful, will simply drive up taxpayers’ costs with little corresponding benefit. A group of parents, teachers and members of the Oklahoma Board of Education have challenged the constitutionality of a law repealing Common Core academic standards. The group doesn’t dispute that state lawmakers can repeal the standards. But they note the law also allows the Legislature to seize power from the executive branch.

  • Mergers show need for U.S. tax code reform

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Jul 2, 2014

    STARTED out of a garage in Minneapolis in 1949, medical device maker Medtronic has grown to become a giant in the industry. It’s a true American success story — one that will soon have a non-American home office. Medtronic announced recently that it’s planning a $42.9 billion acquisition of Covidien and will make its headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, where Covidien (a Massachusetts company) has been incorporated since 2009. Why Dublin? Blame the U.S. tax code. Medtronic, Covidien and other companies do big business overseas but much of that revenue stays there because bringing it back to the United States means paying taxes at a rate much higher than where the money is being earned.

  • High court ruling a win for Hobby Lobby, religious liberty

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Jul 1, 2014

    IN ruling on the side of Hobby Lobby, the U.S. Supreme Court struck a welcome blow for religious liberty, which the Obama administration put in the cross hairs by inserting a misguided contraceptive mandate in the president’s health care law. Monday’s 5-4 ruling was narrower than some opponents of the mandate would have liked, as it applies only to closely held companies. Still, it was a resounding victory. Hobby Lobby took on this fight in 2012 after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandated that faith-affiliated institutions such as hospitals and charities must offer free contraception and abortifacients as part of Obamacare. The administration later revised the rule to make insurance companies, not the

  • Status quo always resists school improvement

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Jun 30, 2014

    A state schools superintendent pushes to improve public education, only to face unhinged resistance from administrators and teacher unions. Before long, legislators put their fingers to the wind and side with status-quo forces. This isn’t a description of state schools Superintendent Janet Barresi’s struggles in Oklahoma. It’s a description of the challenges facing Kevin Huffman, education commissioner of Tennessee. And it describes the challenges facing serious education reform efforts virtually everywhere. Critics of reform efforts often say they want to improve schools, but somehow they never get around to doing it. Instead they complain, fabricating one excuse after another, while pretending that their intransigence

  • Obamacare's main impact so far? Higher prices for consumers

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Jun 30, 2014

    NOW that we’re past the debacle of Obamacare’s initial website crashes, the law’s boosters have taken to citing the absence of daily, routine disaster as proof that the law “works.” But evidence continues to accumulate demonstrating that this law isn’t working as promised, even if its current failures are less jarring than the sight of citizens spending endless hours in front of a frozen computer screen. In a necent column, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, noted the cost of premiums has increased by more than $2,500 per family since Obamacare passed. “If $2,500 sounds familiar,” Coburn wrote, “that’s because it was the amount the president promised to save families.

  • Time to review wind power initiatives in Oklahoma

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Jun 29, 2014

    IN recent years, Oklahoma lawmakers have authorized multiple tax incentives to encourage wind power development. The Oklahoma Property Rights Association compellingly argues that these incentives do little more than throw taxpayer money down a politically correct hole. Members of the association believe wind farm regulation should be increased to reduce negative impact on adjoining property owners. But the group also argues that wind energy tax incentives far exceed any economic benefit. Wind energy boosters brag that their industry has generated multimillion-dollar investments in Oklahoma. But the association estimates the state will provide $1.4 billion in direct subsidies over the next 10 years. Currently, wind farms