• Inefficiency fueled by government 'protection'

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Nov 5, 2014

    LAWMAKERS who propose legislation to “protect jobs” often end up simply increasing consumer costs, reducing efficiency and impeding economic growth. Consider the now-expired Wright Amendment. That 1979 federal law, named for its congressional sponsor, restricted nonstop service from Love Field in Dallas to cities outside Texas and its neighboring states. The justification given for enacting those restrictions “was to prevent competition with the then-relatively new Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and the older Love Field,” the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal notes. The Wright Amendment expired Oct. 13, leading to immediate changes.

  • We can't let ideological objections block path for any energy sources

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Nov 4, 2014

    FOSSIL fuels, fracking and injection wells are political footballs, even in Oklahoma. The air inflating our economy comes largely from agriculture and oil and gas, but the needle moves toward anti-fossil fuel ideology even here. Part of that owes to a populism that’s easily exploited by politicians — a group that at times has included many Democrats and even some Republicans in the Legislature. Fossil fuels have boosted the fortunes of all Oklahomans and the people of other states in which oil and gas exploration has boomed because of hydraulic fracturing. Census data show that 39 U.S. counties, including some in Oklahoma, saw a shift between 2008 and 2012 in which energy became the chief economic driver.

  • Participate in democracy by casting a vote Tuesday

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Nov 4, 2014

    IF early or absentee voting wasn’t on your list of things to do this year, consider a trip to your polling place Tuesday. You can help decide the direction of the state for the next four years and the makeup of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation for at least the next two years. Regardless of your political leanings, voting matters. At the state level, solid Republican control is no reason to assume that the results are a foregone conclusion. At the national level, voters will determine who will control Congress next year and thus influence the remaining months of the Obama administration. Oklahoma will be sending two people to the U.S. Senate, both to be determined Tuesday. The Oklahoman supports Republican Jim Inhofe

  • Schools should embrace parental involvement

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Nov 3, 2014

    THE need for parental involvement in a child’s education is almost universally acknowledged. Yet too many school officials send mixed messages regarding their support for parental partici-pation. Oklahoma Watch recently reported the parental participation rate for parent-teacher conferences in 2012-2013 was low in many Oklahoma schools. Although nearly 70 percent of parents participated in conferences statewide, that rate fell below 50 percent in close to one-fifth of schools, or 330. Chandler High School had the state’s worst parental participation rate with no parents attending parent-teacher conferences. At John Marshall High School in Oklahoma City, only 22 percent of parents attended. At Central Junior High School

  • Fallin, Inhofe, Lankford among those who merit election

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Nov 2, 2014

    THE 2014 election season concludes on Tuesday. Some expect relatively low voter turnout in Oklahoma. We hope that isn’t the case. Although frustration with politics is often understandable, apathy does nothing to improve the system. Tuesday’s elections are an opportunity to influence the direction of both state and federal government. We encourage all registered voters to take advantage of that opportunity. The Oklahoman makes the following endorsements, listed in order of their appearance on the ballot. Governor Incumbent Mary Fallin, a Republican, faces state Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs. Fallin has stressed economic issues throughout her tenure. Oklahoma’s economy is stronger today than when she took

  • ScissorTales: Obama administration officials remain clueless

    The Oklahoman editorials | Published: Sat, Nov 1, 2014

    EFFORTS to refine Obamacare dross into gold are turning into self-parodies of liberal spin. At a recent hearing conducted by the Virginia legislature, federal Health and Human Services official Joanne Grossie told lawmakers that people shouldn’t view the cancellation of insurance policies due to Obamacare as losing insurance. It’s really an “invitation” to get another policy, Grossie said. “If you got one of the notices that your policy was going to be discontinued because it didn’t adhere to the law, it meant that now you could go into the health insurance marketplace,” she said. “So, I just want to remind you that you weren’t losing insurance; you were just losing that insurance plan and were now being

  • For administration, paramount fear today is ... climate change

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Oct 31, 2014

    EBOLA. North Korea. ISIS. Whatever the threat, the only thing we have to fear is … climate change itself. So goes the narrative from Washington. The Obama administration urges calm, rational responses to threats from contagious diseases, terrorism and rogue nations. When it comes to climate change, calm and rationality are defenestrated. The window for dealing with ISIS opened back when Barack Obama told us the terrorist state was merely the junior varsity — and then Obama pulled the shades on a prompt response. The door for responsibly dealing with Ebola was opened more recently — and then slammed shut by a bumbling response. Fear, either rational or irrational, is a powerful human emotion. Sadly, some

  • Oklahoma lottery won't ever play major role in school financing

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Oct 30, 2014

    TEN years ago, Oklahoma voters approved the state lottery. Although originally touted as a way to “do something big for education,” most news coverage today notes a general disappointment with the lottery’s impact. This was largely unavoidable: While lottery proponents clearly overpromised and under-delivered, even without the hype many people would have had unrealistic expectations. First as a state senator, then as governor, Brad Henry was the lottery’s most visible proponent. He’s also responsible for some of the inflated figures associated with the lottery. As a senator, Henry suggested a lottery would generate up to $500 million annually for schools. As governor, he said it could raise $300 million.

  • Policy impacted by outcomes of state legislative races

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Oct 30, 2014

    REPUBLICANS have a good chance to win control of the U.S. Senate in Tuesday’s elections and thus take the reins of the federal legislative branch. That would be an important victory for conservatives, but the impact will be limited: So long as President Barack Obama is in office, only modest policy gains are likely in Washington. Outside the Beltway, though, it’s a different story. The state level is where political party control can generate the most significant policy shifts — even though state legislative races are often an afterthought for voters. Major policy changes began occurring in Oklahoma as soon as Republicans won control of the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 2004.

  • Study shows why eminent domain should be narrowly tailored

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Oct 29, 2014

    EVEN in the best circumstances, the use of eminent domain generates controversy. A new study illustrates why use of that governmental power should be narrowly tailored. The nation’s most famous instance of eminent domain led to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Kelo decision in 2005. In that case, the town of New London, Conn., used eminent domain to take properties for eventual resale to a private developer, who planned to install a hotel, shopping center and retail/office space. The Supreme Court ruled that governments could use eminent domain to take property from one set of private owners and sell it to other private citizens in the name of economic development.

  • On corrections, Oklahoma lawmakers can't have it both ways

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Oct 29, 2014

    THE Oklahoma Department of Corrections budget request for the next fiscal year prompts the question: Will state policymakers ever seriously entertain policies that might help this state spend less on corrections? If the answer is no — and there’s been little evidence to date that lawmakers are fond of prison reform — then those same lawmakers must be willing to break open the checkbook. Current trends can’t be addressed without additional money. The DOC last week said it will ask the Legislature for about $85 million more next fiscal year, with a good chunk of that ($26 million) to be used to help deal with an inmate population that continues to grow. For the first time, the offender population in Oklahoma has topped

  • Oklahoma third-grade reading results justify state concern

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Oct 28, 2014

    CRITICS of Oklahoma’s third-grade reading law, which requires students to repeat a grade if they read at a first-grade level or lower, claim that it’s unfair for “one test on one day” to have such consequence. Yet students who failed the test continue to fail other reading tests as well. Perhaps it’s time critics admit that the main reason state tests show kids can’t read isn’t test day anxiety. The main reason is this: Those students really can’t read! In the Oklahoma City school district, only five of the 611 students who were held back under the state law have passed an alternative test since the start of August. And the district offers nine alternative tests.

  • Some Oklahoma political candidates dilute party differences

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Oct 27, 2014

    RELATIVELY low turnout is expected in Oklahoma’s November elections. Partial blame lies with state politicians, some of whom are going to odd lengths to dilute any distinction between the political parties. Take George Faught, a Republican running for election to a state House seat near Muskogee. Faught previously represented that area, compiling a generally conservative record before making an unsuccessful congressional run. Yet now Faught touts the endorsement of former state schools Superintendent Sandy Garrett, a prominent Democrat whose two decades in office weren’t associated with conservative policy. Take state Sen.

  • Cellphone program offers a glimpse of what Obamacare could become

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Oct 27, 2014

    AFTER the first round of riots in Ferguson, Mo., residents were offered help in meeting basic needs during a time of disruption. We noticed that most of those waiting in line to have their basic needs met were talking or texting on cellphones. Having a cellphone is a basic need, it seems, and we don’t begrudge anyone the convenience and security that mobile telephony offers. The question before us today is this: Who pays the bill? Government programs to offer cell service at free or reduced cost are ripe for fraud. Claire McCaskill, a U.S. senator who represents Ferguson and the rest of Missouri, has termed the Lifeline Program as “one of the most fraud-infested programs ever conceived in the federal government.

  • Oklahoma congressional delegation likely to look similar after Election Day

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Oct 26, 2014

    DUE to an unusual confluence of events, every seat in the Oklahoma congressional delegation was up for grabs when candidate filing began in April. In theory this meant that all seven seats could have changed hands after the Nov. 4 election. Won’t happen. In fact, the 2015-16 delegation will probably look a lot like the 2013-14 version. And that’s a good thing. The 2014 election for federal offices would have included one U.S. Senate post and the five U.S. House seats. U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn’s early departure created a seventh opening. The five House seats were to be on the general election ballot, but District 1 incumbent Jim Bridenstine, R-Tulsa, was re-elected without opposition. In the 2nd, 3rd and 4th districts,

  • Oklahoma initiative petition process needs to change

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Oct 26, 2014

    SINCE 1998, only three statewide initiatives out of more than two dozen attempted wound up making their way to the ballot in Oklahoma. That’s not exactly the sort of direct democracy the state’s founders championed. The most recent failures occurred last week. One would have asked voters if they wanted to legalize marijuana for recreational use. The other would have let voters choose whether to use $500 million in bonds to fund school storm shelters. Both came up well short of collecting the required number of signatures. In Oklahoma, efforts to amend the state constitution require petition backers to gather signatures equal to 15 percent of the turnout for the last gubernatorial election — in this case, about 155,000

  • ScissorTales: Ray Vaughn, Butch Freeman, Willa Johnson merit re-election in Oklahoma County races

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Oct 25, 2014

    HIGH-profile races for governor and seats in the U.S. Senate have dominated the 2014 election season, but other contests will be on the ballot as well. In Oklahoma County, this includes two commission seats and the county treasurer’s office. Two additional races were kept off the ballot because no candidates filed against Republican County Assessor Leonard Sullivan or Democratic District Attorney David Prater. In District 3, County Commissioner Ray Vaughn, a Republican, is seeking a third term. Vaughn has been an outstanding commissioner and was an outstanding state lawmaker before that. Vaughn led efforts to acquire a former General Motors assembly plant and incorporate it into the Tinker Aerospace Complex, a massive job

  • Officials at OU, OSU ably handle difficult challenges

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Oct 24, 2014

    FIRST and foremost, Oklahoma’s colleges and universities are centers of learning. But college life also is enriched by athletics and other nonacademic pursuits. Allegations of wrongdoing or mismanagement in these peripheral programs should be taken seriously. Leaders of the state’s two comprehensive universities have done just that. The University of Oklahoma faced controversy over the alleged shortcomings of the marching band director. After students used full-page newspaper ads to voice their frustrations, OU President David Boren struck down participation agreements that had prevented band members from publicly criticizing the program. Boren also met with student band members. On Thursday, band director Justin Stolarik

  • Are Democrats in California learning a tax lesson?

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Oct 24, 2014

    OFFICIALS in the Democrat-dominated state government of California hope that reducing the tax burden of certain businesses will lead to job creation. Is this a sign of the Apocalypse? Not quite. It’s just another example of liberals being mugged by reality. Lest anyone get too excited, California isn’t cutting its state income tax, which still tops out at a highest-in-the-nation 13.3 percent. Instead, the state is expanding tax-incentive programs for film and TV productions, particularly for visual-effects work. A new law, signed this year but taking effect in 2015, authorizes $330 million in incentives over five years, which is three times the amount previously allowed. Tax credits for visual-effects work will soon cover

  • Ballot initiatives add spice to otherwise lackluster election season

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Oct 23, 2014

    FRACKERS, guns and money. Drugs, too. That about sums up ballot initiatives this year, adding spice to an otherwise lackluster election season. Scott Shackford of reason.com says the “endless, exhaustive, never-ending analysis” of which party will next control the U.S. Senate is tiresome. Regardless of the outcome, not much will likely get done in Washington over the next two years. In many states and in some localities, however, ballot initiatives are exciting the voters. But not in Oklahoma. The three state questions on the 2014 ballot are housekeeping measures related to military service. What could have been up for a vote were issues such as marijuana legalization and a statewide school storm shelter bond issue.