• Marriage still a proven way to health, happiness

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

    IN a transparent attempt to link romance to commitment, various advocacy groups annually declare the week preceding Valentine’s Day to be “National Marriage Week.” Given the wealth of goods that marriage confers upon spouses and children, it’s a worthy observance — even if less noted than the warm, fuzzy holiday it anticipates. Consider: Married individuals have lower rates of mortality than unmarried individuals. They’re less likely to abuse alcohol or engage in other patently self-destructive behaviors, according to the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. They also report less depression, less anxiety and lower levels of psychological distress than those who are single, divorced or widowed.

  • Repealing bad laws can be better than passing new ones

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

    CALL it the nature of the beast: The first inclination of many lawmakers is to make new statutes. Yet in Oklahoma and elsewhere, economic opportunity would rise if legislators instead repealed old laws that are outmoded or overly burdensome. Stateline.org highlighted this problem in an article focused on 33-year-old Nivea Earl of Jacksonville, Ark. Earl recently opened Twistykinks, a hair braiding salon. The problem for Earl is that her hair braiding service is technically illegal. Arkansas law requires a cosmetology license to braid hair. To meet that requirement, Earl would have to take 1,500 hours of training, pass two exams and pay thousands of dollars to attend a cosmetology school. Those schools, stateline.org notes, don’t

  • Set your sights on a controversial war film

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

    “American Sniper” has drawn more fire than a moving target. We’re addled by the controversy this movie has generated, mostly from surrender caucus leftists. The film is no more pro-war (or anti-war) than Clint Eastwood’s last foray into combat, “Flags of Our Fathers” in 2006. That film covered a key battle in World War II. (We suppose the surrender caucus would term that a “good” war.) Both movies show the horrors of combat and the effect that war has — mentally and physically — on those who actually fight. Chris Kyle’s story resonates with patriotic Americans because he was motivated by avenging attacks on U.S. embassies, the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Kyle’s skills at marksmanship

  • What's new in schools is keyboard curricula

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

    Typing is back. Didn’t know it had gone away? Nor did we. Texting isn’t so much typing as it is thumbing and putting words down in shorthand, to be read by someone who knows the code. Critics of standardized tests complain about “teaching to the test.” Now it appears that schools are teaching typing to take the tests. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday on the rebirth of typing classes, to prepare students to take standardized tests on computers rather than using paper and pencils. At a school in rural New Jersey, students are learning to type in kindergarten through fourth grade. “Because of testing,” teacher Patti Poff told the Journal, “we needed to do something a little more serious with

  • Recent court dispute highlights Oklahoma's mental health crisis

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

    THE mental health crisis facing Oklahoma was made crystal clear last week in an Oklahoma County courtroom. With any luck, policymakers were paying attention. District Judge Ray C. Elliott threatened to have Terri White, the head of Oklahoma’s mental health agency, thrown in jail because an inmate who needed treatment hadn’t received it six months after it was ordered. “You don’t just get to ignore a court order,” Elliott scolded the agency’s general counsel, who represented White at a contempt-of-court hearing. Elliott’s frustration is understandable. Instead of being transferred to the Oklahoma Forensic Center in Vinita for treatment and evaluation to see if he could assist in his own case, Ricky Edwards had

  • EPA request another example of throwing logic out the window

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

    Move intended to delay Keystone pipeline

  • Further income tax cut not on Oklahoma policymakers' radar

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

    GOV. Mary Fallin talked about many things during her 2015 State of the State speech to the Legislature. Oklahoma’s personal income tax rate wasn’t one of them. Perhaps that’s instructive. For a time during her first term, Fallin urged her fellow Republicans who control both chambers to approve a plan that ultimately would eliminate the personal income tax. That didn’t materialize, but lawmakers did approve a bill that in January 2016 will cut the top rate to 5 percent from its current 5.25 percent. If future revenue growth meets certain benchmarks, another trigger will kick in that would push the rate down to 4.85 percent.

  • GOP doesn't need a repeat of 2012's “Let's Make a President!”

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

    WHO’S in first? Mitt’s out, Jeb’s in. Mike, Chris, Rand, Scott and Ted are occupying a crowded green room, waiting for an announcer’s cue. The game show atmosphere of the 2012 Republican presidential campaign could happen again next year. But it doesn’t have to and we hope it won’t. The 2012 campaign featured 26 “debates” (and almost as many “first-tier” candidates!) starting well ahead of the initial caucuses and primary voting. For 2016, the Republican National Committee proposes a limit of seven. The 2012 version of “Let’s Make A President!” helped bounce hopeful Rick Perry when he uttered an unfortunate remark. But debates aren’t supposed to be about winnowing candidates down to

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: On importance of vaccinations, most Oklahomans get it

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Feb 7, 2015

    ON the importance of not smoking, or eating healthy foods, or getting enough exercise, too many Oklahomans don’t get it. The state regularly ranks toward the bottom of national health-related rankings. But when it comes to getting children vaccinated, most Oklahoma parents — unlike, apparently, some Republican politicians with designs on the presidency — do get that childhood vaccines are important, safe and necessary. According to the state Health Department, 96.4 percent of Oklahoma kindergartners had all their required shots when they arrived for the first day of the 2013-14 school year. State law requires these vaccinations unless an exception is granted for medical, religious or other reasons. The national median

  • No need to trim Oklahoma prosecutors' oversight

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

    Safeguards shouldn’t be weakened

  • Oklahoma 'wetlands' regulations could have dramatic impact

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

    WE’VE often noted that many federal regulations lack a foundation based on logic. Now, a proposed state environmental regulation may match the feds in damaging Oklahoma economic growth for no apparent reason. The Oklahoma Water Resources Board is considering new wetland regulations that could have a dramatic statewide impact. Among other things, it appears the rules would define dry land as “wetland.” Under existing state law, the definition of “waters of the state” is restricted to bodies of water. But under the proposed rules, that definition would include normally dry land where water may collect under certain circumstances.

  • Residents should hope new Oklahoma DHS program works as planned

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

    IN Ohio, untangling federal money that had once been used for foster care and using it instead to help families in crisis has been a tremendous success. “Flexible spending has been an extraordinary boon to our state,” an Ohio children’s services official says. Could the same happen in Oklahoma? We certainly have our fingers crossed. So should all Oklahomans as the state rolls out its own flexible spending program later this year. Traditionally, the federal government has stipulated that most of the child welfare money it sends to states be used for programs that cater to children who’ve been removed from homes — for example, on foster care or adoption programs. Critics of this model say it tends to help keep

  • No need to eliminate Oklahoma graduation standards

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Updated: Tue, Feb 3, 2015

    SOME state politicians seem to think it’s time to water down the value of an Oklahoma high school diploma. This disturbing trend is seen in an effort to roll back the bipartisan Achieving Classroom Excellence (ACE) law passed in 2005. Among other things, ACE requires Oklahoma students to pass four of seven end-of-instruction (EOI) exams in Algebra I, Algebra II, English II, English III, Biology I, Geometry and U.S. History. Those who fail to do so can’t get a high school diploma. The EOI requirement set an academic floor. On most tests, students can miss roughly half the questions and still pass. The overwhelming majority pass the tests.

  • Tracking federal funding flow could produce better policies

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

    OKLAHOMANS are known for their dislike of federal deficit spending. Yet Oklahoma state government’s reliance on federal funding undoubtedly plays a role in driving up the national deficit and debt. According to the Tax Foundation, federal funds accounted for 36.2 percent of state government’s general revenue in the 2012 budget year. Lawmakers, many of whom decry federal debt and excessive regulation, seldom acknowledge this fact. Trent England, vice president for strategic initiatives at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, says it’s time to admit there’s a federal elephant in the state’s living room. “Many federal and state officials like to talk and act as if that money is simply a free gift,” England

  • Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin shows signs of being agent of change

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Feb 3, 2015

    IN her State of the State speech Monday, Gov. Mary Fallin said something that many lawmakers and agency heads know is true, but generally prefer not to acknowledge. “As a state, we spend a lot of money on programs we hope are working,” Fallin said. “We need to identify and support programs that we know are working in our state.” Businesses in the private sector conduct self-assessments all the time, to ensure they’re getting the most return for their investment. The public sector? Not so much. To her credit, Fallin wants to change that as her second term begins. She touted “performance informed budgeting,” a process that the Office of Management and Enterprise Services has been introducing to agencies during the

  • Oklahoma trooper's death offers a jarring reminder of job's hazards

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Feb 3, 2015

    THE event that left an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper dead and another badly injured offered a jarring reminder that men and women in law enforcement literally put their lives on the line every time they report for duty. Trooper Nicholas Dees didn’t die in a shoot-out, or while pursuing a lawbreaker, or during a scuffle with a noncompliant offender. Instead, Dees was killed Saturday night while responding to a call in which a tractor-trailer rig had overturned on the highway. Dees and trooper Keith Burch were offering assistance and conducting their investigation on Interstate 40 near Shawnee — doing the “ordinary” work that’s part of every trooper’s shift — when they were both struck by a vehicle traveling

  • Proposed Oklahoma bill was unduly harsh, and unnecessary

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

    Rep. Sally Kern wisely decides to withdraw legislation

  • Suddenly, Obama determines he does 'own' the economy

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

    POLLING done just after the State of the Union speech found “crosscurrents that signal a complex political terrain” for Congress, the White House and 2016 presidential candidates, according to a report in USA Today, which co-sponsored the poll. President Barack Obama has seen improved favorability ratings as signs of an economic upturn emerged, but the poll found that many Americans believe only the rich are benefitting — another sign that Obama’s class warfare strategy has diverted attention from the fact he’s been president for six years of “the rich getting richer.” Gains in wealth are largely attributable to the stock market; gains in the stock market are largely attributable to federal monetary policy.

  • As 2015 session begins, big picture should be focus for Oklahoma lawmakers

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Updated: Fri, Jan 30, 2015

    Leave the pandering, frivolity aside

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: Lawmakers should let cities, counties craft their own laws

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Jan 31, 2015

    WHEN the topic is education, Republican lawmakers in Oklahoma are quick to say local school boards are best-equipped to handle their business. On other issues that arise, such logic goes out the window. Last year, the GOP-controlled Legislature approved, and Republican Gov. Mary Fallin signed, a bill that prevents municipalities from setting their own minimum wage standards. This year, lawmakers want to keep cities from banning drilling within their limits. At least eight bills, all of them with Republican sponsors — including one each by the House speaker and Senate president pro tem — have been filed that would stop cities and counties from banning drilling. Local communities would still be allowed to impose limits on