• Oklahoma ScissorTales: Are days numbered for 3.2 beer in state?

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sat, Sep 19, 2015

    A surprise announcement this week by the Retail Liquor Association of Oklahoma has the potential to significantly change what sort of beer is sold in the state and where wine can be purchased. The group said it now supports a legislative effort to allow refrigerated, single-strength (or “strong”) beer to be sold in grocery stores, convenience stores and liquor stores. Presently, grocery and convenience stores must sell only 3.2 beer; liquor stores can sell strong beer, but at room temperature. The association also said wine, now only available for sale in their stores, should be made available “in a limited number of grocery stores.” Oklahoma has some of the most antiquated liquor laws in the country, but

  • Trump’s lack of specifics evident in second GOP debate

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Sep 18, 2015

    AFTER being relegated to the undercard in the first Republican presidential debate, Carly Fiorina showed in the second debate that she merited a spot in the main event and displayed why she has gained some traction among GOP voters. Fiorina, like nine others on the stage Wednesday night at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California, entered the debate trailing front-runner Donald Trump by a wide margin in most polls. Our sense is the gap should narrow a bit. Trump's angry man routine has a visceral appeal to many, but his condescension toward his opponents and lack of policy detail — both on display Wednesday — are difficult to ignore.

  • Oklahoma execution reprieve means added pain for victim's family

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Sep 18, 2015

    AFTER 18 years, what's another two weeks before Richard Glossip is executed for his role in the bludgeoning death of his boss? Actually it's quite a lot for relatives of the victim, two more weeks of uncertainty and heartache that's an afterthought to those celebrating the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals' decision to grant a temporary stay. The victim was Barry Van Treese, owner of the Best Budget Inn in Oklahoma City. He was 54, the father of seven children ages 31 to 5, when he was clubbed to death with a baseball bat wielded by Justin Sneed, a maintenance worker acting at Glossip's behest. Sneed testified against Glossip and was sentenced to life without parole. Glossip was convicted, twice, of murder and given a death

  • Oklahoma ME office uncertainty needs to end

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Sep 17, 2015

    IN September 2013, the Oklahoma Council of Bond Oversight voted to authorize the sale of bonds to raise $38.5 million for a building to house the state medical examiner's office. The next day's story in The Oklahoman began this way: “In a couple of years or so from now, if everything goes according to plan, bodies will be delivered for autopsies to the medical examiner's new headquarters at the southeast corner of the University of Central Oklahoma.” Unfortunately, everything has not gone according to plan. As a result, employees of the ME's office find themselves once again hoping for a happy ending to a story that has dragged on for about a decade.

  • Focus on deregulation might serve GOP candidates well

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Sep 17, 2015

    TAX cuts have long been a cornerstone of Republican Party politics, and many GOP presidential contenders have called for major changes that would lower rates and increase the reward for work and investment. Such efforts are undoubtedly worthwhile. But tax cuts aren't the only weapon that could free the nation from the grip of the anemic economic growth that has reigned during the Obama years. Policymakers should also push for broad deregulation to free entrepreneurs and risk-takers. That point was raised by Noah Smith, an assistant professor of finance at Stony Brook University, in a recent column for Bloomberg View. Smith dismisses tax cuts as a method to produce “only a little growth,” but suggests deregulation could

  • Less demagoguery sought in debate over Oklahoma's '85 percent' rule

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Sep 16, 2015

    A decision by the Oklahoma Board of Corrections will save the state millions of dollars over the long run and may provide for a safer work environment for men and women charged with monitoring prison inmates. In the view of one critic, however, this move will mean certain disaster for Oklahoma. The corrections board, at the urging of Gov. Mary Fallin, voted last week to allow inmates convicted of “85 percent” crimes to earn good-behavior credits from the start of their confinement. For many years, these credits weren't allowed to accrue until the inmate had completed at least 85 percent of the sentence. Consequently, many wind up serving more than 90 percent of their time before being released.

  • Study from Oklahoma higher ed regents relevant to teacher pay discussion

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Sep 16, 2015

    DESPITE expected budget challenges, some interest groups are demanding that state lawmakers provide across-the-board teacher pay increases next year. We've argued that lawmakers should base any spending decision on hard data, not anecdotes. A new report from the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education could benefit that discussion. Each year the higher education system tries to document the employment outcomes of Oklahoma college graduates. The most recent report covers those who graduated in the 2011-12 school year. It provides a more nuanced portrait than activists' hyperbole. After one year, a college graduate with a bachelor's degree in education earned $37,511, on average.

  • Glossip's actions hardly paint picture of innocence

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Sep 15, 2015

    IF nothing changes, Richard Glossip will reach the end of the line Wednesday and be executed for his role in the murder of Oklahoma City motel owner Barry Van Treese. This will upset death penalty opponents, who have made Glossip a national poster child for their cause. We understand those who oppose the death penalty for anyone based on moral objections. In the Glossip case, many supporters insist he's innocent. Yet the reason Glossip's execution is likely to occur as scheduled is because those arguments are largely based on the idea that you can't trust the word of someone serving a life sentence for murder, but can unquestioningly believe the word of someone on death row for murder.

  • Company has provided Sonic boon for Oklahoma City

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Sep 15, 2015

    TIME flies when you're selling burgers and fries. The Sonic Drive-In chain is now as old as people who've reached Social Security eligibility. Sixty-two years ago, in 1953, company founder Troy Smith Sr. opened a hamburger and root beer stand in Shawnee. It was called the Top Hat Drive-In. Six years later, a Top Hat in Stillwater was rebranded as a Sonic, the first of its name. That site on Main Street in Stillwater is still in business. In fact, it's been renovated. The store reopened this month in a celebration of Sonic's heritage. Much has been written in praise of Oklahoma-based businesses that are excellent corporate citizens — companies such as Devon, Continental Resources, OG&E, Love's and numerous others.

  • Upset in Oklahoma House race highlights the importance of voting

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Sep 14, 2015

    IN a surprise victory last week, Democrats won a special election in a state House seat long held by Republicans. Shifting demographics may have played a role, but the vote result also owed much to a simple fact: On a nontraditional election day, Democratic voters turned out and Republican voters didn't. That's no knock on Democrats, who did what it takes to win. But this election also highlights the continuing problem of voter apathy. In a district with 23,949 registered voters, only 4,908 cast a ballot — or roughly one in five. House District 85, based in Oklahoma City, became vacant upon the death of incumbent Rep. David Dank, a Republican. The resulting special election involved a July primary and a Sept. 8 general

  • Trying something new in Oklahoma's prisons

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Sep 13, 2015

    SOME policymakers in Oklahoma are looking for ways to be “smart on crime” instead of continuing the status quo — see Gov. Mary Fallin's move, adopted by the corrections board last week, to let inmates who must serve at least 85 percent of their sentence accrue good-behavior credits throughout their imprisonment, instead of waiting until the 85 percent threshold has been reached. Meantime, the head of the state's prison system is exploring ways to be “smart on corrections.” A new pilot project offers an example.

  • Solid footing needed for Insure Oklahoma program

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Sep 13, 2015

    IF Insure Oklahoma needs a specialty advertising item to promote the program, we suggest skipping the ballpoint pens or calendars and going right to the yo-yo.  It seems apt for a program that's had so many ups and downs. Instead of giveaways, Insure Oklahoma officials have launched a $450,000 media campaign to counter a five-year decline in enthusiasm for a program that helps provide health insurance coverage for the working poor. A tobacco tax increase approved by voters in 2004 kicked off a visionary plan to provide coverage with financial support from taxpayers, employers and the workers themselves. The aim was to get more working Oklahomans off the list of the uninsured.

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: 8-year transportation plan reflects clear progress

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Sep 12, 2015

    THE new eight-year construction plan from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation is ambitious — they always are — and indicates just how successful this program has been. The early focus, with good reason, was on reducing the number of bad bridges on the state highway system. When the eight-year plans began about a decade ago, Oklahoma ranked at or near the top of states with the most structurally deficient bridges. That's no longer the case. The number of such bridges had shrunk to 372 by the end of last year, from a high of 1,168 in 2004.

  • Many consumers will suffer from looming Obamacare tax

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Sep 11, 2015

    BACKERS of the Affordable Care Act claimed the law would increase citizens' financial security, but one provision is predicted to dramatically reduce the ability of many middle-class families to cover unexpected medical expenses. Many employers provide workers the option to set up flexible spending accounts or health savings accounts in which people save money tax free for medical expenses. The cash in HSAs also rolls over from year to year, allowing families to build up a nest egg for use in the event of a major surgery. Yet Obamacare may soon make those accounts a thing of the past.

  • Good news resulting from Oklahoma work comp reform

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Sep 11, 2015

    THE law that changed Oklahoma's workers' compensation system has been challenged in court on many fronts by those who prefer the adversarial, attorney-dominated system that was in place for so many years. Yet there are clear signs the new administrative system is working. The clearest comes in a report from the National Council on Compensation Insurance, which filed an overall loss cost, or claim expense, decrease of 14.8 percent for Oklahoma. This marks the third straight year of declines in this important indicator — by a total of 37.2 percent according to state Insurance Commissioner John Doak.

  • In effort to reduce poverty, wage subsidy worth debating

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Sep 10, 2015

    ANY policy proposal that discomfits liberals and conservatives alike (for different reasons, of course) could well be a proposal worth debating. One such proposal is the wage subsidy. It's a means of helping Americans in lower-income jobs without the artifice of minimum wage laws. It's also an alternative to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and a vehicle for reducing federal outlays for welfare programs. The flip side is that taxpayers would help pay the wages of some Americans, directly and perpetually. But middle-class Americans who pay most for welfare programs are already paying, indirectly and perpetually. Middle-class earners don't generally benefit directly from welfare programs. They're adversely affected by

  • Bogus assumptions helped drive prairie chicken regulations

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Sep 10, 2015

    A federal judge has ruled that the Obama administration's efforts to declare the lesser prairie chicken “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act were done “arbitrarily and capriciously.” That conclusion isn't shocking given this administration's track record. The ruling by Robert A. Junell, a Texas district judge, is a victory for Oklahoma. Had the chicken been declared “threatened,” economic activity in much of the state would have been severely curtailed. Before making a “threatened” declaration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must review state-level conservation efforts to determine if they negate the need for federal intervention. Oklahoma and four other states are already implementing a

  • Oklahoma reading law continues to reap benefits

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Sep 9, 2015

    WHEN state lawmakers voted to require that third-grade students be retained if they don't demonstrate a minimal level of reading skill, critics derided the law, claiming it would do little to improve academic performance while demoralizing children. The results continue to prove those critics wrong. Under Oklahoma's reading law, third-grade students must show they can read at a second-grade level or better on a state test before being promoted to the fourth grade. Students reading at a first-grade level or lower must repeat the third grade. The mandate has been in effect for students taking tests since spring 2014. Keep in mind, students who fail the initial state test can still be promoted.

  • State chairman's resignation will allow Oklahoma GOP to start over

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Sep 8, 2015

    WITH Randy Brogdon's brief and tumultuous time as Oklahoma Republican Party chairman coming to a close, the party needs to look for a leader who can appeal to a broader spectrum of Republicans. Brogdon announced last week that he would be stepping down and called for a State Committee Meeting to be held Saturday in Tulsa to select a new chairman. The move surprised many, but it stands to benefit the party. Brogdon is a hard-right Republican who embraced the tea party movement when it swept across the country in 2009. Some would call him extreme — indeed in an interview in 2010, Brogdon said he supported creation of a state militia to protect Oklahoma against an overreaching federal government (he later softened

  • Close attention warranted for EPA's new ozone rule

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Sep 8, 2015

    IT'S difficult to keep track of the many ways the Environmental Protection Agency under the Obama administration is working to make life more difficult and costly for Americans. One plan to pay attention to involves ozone regulations. This proposed rule hasn't garnered as much attention as, say, the EPA's Clean Power Plan, which seeks to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. Energy produced from fossil fuels is the main target of that plan; naturally, Oklahoma oil and gas companies are concerned about the CPP's impact. New ozone regulations, if approved, would cut a much broader swath through the economy.