• ACT plan would make Oklahoma a national outlier

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Mar 24, 2015

    A push is underway at the Legislature to eliminate seven end-of-instruction (EOI) tests now required for high school graduation and replace them with the ACT or a similar national test. Yet the vast majority of states that require all students to take the ACT also require state tests. If the Oklahoma proposal is a good plan, then why aren’t more states using it? That question deserves an answer. Twelve states require 100 percent of their high school students to take the ACT before graduating. Almost all also require additional state tests, according to publicly available information. Wyoming is an exception.

  • Voters should have a say in Oklahoma liquor laws debate

    The Oklahoman editorial | Published: Mon, Mar 23, 2015

    COULD Oklahoma’s archaic and cumbersome liquor laws finally be modernized? It appears public demand for change is generating pressure. And lawmakers may finally tackle this tough issue — but not until next year. Even so, any movement is encouraging. This year, freshman Sen. Stephanie Bice, R-Oklahoma City, filed legislation to allow liquor stores to sell refrigerated strong beer. It was an admittedly small change. Yet Bice found taking even that step would have repercussions because it upset the balance between liquor stores, which can sell strong beer but cannot refrigerate it, and convenience stores, which can sell cold beer but only low-point beer.

  • Growth in spending for major U.S. federal welfare programs can't be sustained

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Mar 23, 2015

    SEVERAL U.S. presidents, including Bill Clinton, liked to style themselves as “The Education President.” Clinton was also delighted by the gratuitous designation of “America’s First Black President.” The real first black president is often referred to on these pages as The Great Divider. But Barack Obama easily qualifies as “The Welfare President.” Clinton grudgingly agreed to reform the nation’s welfare system in 1996, under intense pressure from congressional Republicans. They wanted a change from welfare to workfare. Clinton didn’t want to go along, but he also didn’t want to be a one-term president. What’s happened since the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act

  • A wish for a constructive resolution to OU fraternity uproar

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Mar 22, 2015

    Court fight would be unfortunate

  • Bills represent some steps in the right direction on Oklahoma criminal justice reform

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Mar 22, 2015

    THE move toward smarter corrections-related policies is a slow one in Oklahoma, although it is indeed underway, as House Speaker Jeff Hickman points out. Before he became speaker last year, Hickman, R-Fairview, spoke of the need to ease the prison population because conditions are unsafe for inmates and corrections officers. In his leadership role, he has continued to cite the benefit of lawmakers adopting a “smart on crime” approach instead of simply being tough on crime. Hickman has offered House Bill 2179, which would make it easier for offenders to obtain a commercial driver’s license once they have been released from prison. Presently ex-convicts must pay off all fees and fines before getting a suspended license

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: Lawmakers making a simple issue difficult

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Mar 21, 2015

    HOW can something so simple be so difficult? The chairman of a state Senate committee said this week he wouldn’t give a hearing to a House bill that would ban text-messaging while driving. Why? Because “We have an agreeable bill that has passed the Senate,” said Sen. Don Barrington, R-Lawton. Yet the Senate bill, as the Tulsa World reported, was approved as a “committee bill” under new Senate rules and was assigned to the House Rules Committee instead of somewhere more fitting such as the Public Safety Committee. As the World noted, the rules committee has often been where bills are sent to die. The committee’s chairman isn’t ruling out giving the bill a hearing. We certainly hope that happens.

  • Obama plan: Reward Iran, punish U.S. energy?

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Mar 20, 2015

    THROUGHOUT his presidency, Barack Obama has sought to curtail oil and gas production in the United States. Now he’s seeking a deal with Iran that would allow that country to open the spigot on oil exports. It says much about this presidency that Obama shows more zeal for restricting the actions of law-abiding U.S. energy companies than he does for combating a terrorist-supporting, nuclear arms-seeking rogue nation. To pressure Iran to drop its nuclear ambitions, sanctions were imposed that limited its ability to export oil. Those sanctions may be lifted under the agreement now being pursued by Obama. The Wall Street Journal reports this could “translate into half a million barrels or more a day in Iranian crude heading into a

  • No pressing reason to spike A-F school grades in Oklahoma

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Mar 20, 2015

    System easily understood, not unduly punitive

  • Oklahoma kids can't afford for DHS workers not to follow protocol

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Mar 19, 2015

    Breakdowns contributed in death of 2-year-old girl

  • OKC superintendent must quickly address school discipline issue

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Mar 19, 2015

    SUPERINTENDENT Rob Neu gave a presentation to the Oklahoma City School Board on Monday night. When he finished, one board member asked a single question. There was no additional discussion. Perhaps that’s because there really wasn’t much more to be said. Simply put, the district has a serious problem when it comes to disciplining students — particularly those of color. Neu pledged to do something about it, as he should. According to district figures, at least 20 percent of students at six city high schools were suspended during the 2012-13 school year. They ranged from 22 percent of students at U.S. Grant and John Marshall high schools, to 32 percent at Oklahoma Centennial.

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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.