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ScissorTales: Animal issues fire up lawmakers

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: March 16, 2013

A big gulp of relief

Let's hear it for Milton Tingling! A justice on the New York Supreme Court, Tingling struck down New York City's proposed ban on large soft drinks. The idea was proposed last year by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and approved by the city's health board. It was to take effect this week, but Tingling said no in his Monday ruling. Among other things, he said the ban on drinks larger than 16 ounces was arbitrary in that it applied only to some sugary drinks and some places that sell them. “The loopholes in this rule effectively defeat the stated purpose of this rule,” said Tingling, a Democrat elected to his post in 2001. Bloomberg proposed the ban as a way to cut down on obesity; he vows to appeal. “One of the cases we will make,” he declared, “is that people are dying every day.” And only an expansion of the nanny state can prevent that, it seems.

Crash course

Expansion of the nanny state is one argument used by those opposed to banning text-messaging while driving. If someone wants to text while driving, they say, it's their business. But when that person swerves into another lane while texting, his business becomes other peoples' business. Scores of studies point up the dangers of texting at the wheel — those who do so are 23 times more likely to get into an accident — but they didn't help to get a proposed ban out of the Oklahoma House of Representatives this session. Speaker T.W. Shannon says distracted driving is already against the law. He also questions whether such a ban would be enforceable. Why not let law enforcement, which supports a ban, deal with that issue? Thirty-nine states have outlawed texting while driving. Oklahoma should join them.

Workers' comp support

Workers' compensation reform is often viewed as an issue important to a sliver of Oklahoma's business community, but a source of indifference for most citizens. A new poll suggests this may no longer be the case. A survey of likely Oklahoma voters showed 72.5 percent felt changes should be made to the current workers' compensation system with two-thirds believing the current system hurts Oklahoma businesses. Only 8.7 percent disagreed with a potential change to an administrative-based system. An outright majority of Democrats surveyed agreed that shifting to an administrative system could be beneficial. Because the poll was commissioned by the State Chamber Research Foundation, some will question its findings. But it's not unreasonable to think most Oklahomans, having lived their entire lives hearing of problems with the current work comp system, have concluded it's time to junk it. Lawmakers should take note.

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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