Anti-texting chorus grows
The chorus of voices looking to stop text-messaging while driving now includes the country's four largest cellphone companies. T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and AT&T are getting behind a multimillion dollar ad campaign promoting AT&T's “It Can Wait” campaign. “Every CEO in the industry that you talk to recognizes that this is an issue that needs to be dealt with,” the head of AT&T told The Associated Press. Perhaps the message eventually will sink in with Oklahoma legislative leaders. Several efforts this year to ban texting and driving failed. Oklahoma is one of just 11 states that haven't outlawed texting at the wheel, which is dangerous not only to the person sending or reading messages, but to others on the road.
Supporting education reform
Critics have sought to place recent Oklahoma education reforms in the worst light possible; the public isn't buying it. A poll by Cole Hargrave Snodgrass & Associates finds 54 percent of Oklahoma voters feel A-F grading of public schools is a good thing; just 27 percent said it was bad. In Oklahoma City, 58 percent support that reform. Statewide, 49 percent of voters felt greater accountability and rigor are needed in public schools, with 41 percent strongly supportive. Just 27 percent strongly felt there was too much testing. In Oklahoma City, 55 percent supported greater rigor. Finally, 54 percent statewide supported adopting national standards like the Common Core standards for reading and math. Opponents have issued constant attacks and claimed education reform is so very, very complex and improvement virtually impossible. That's proving a hard sell when the reforms involved are so easily understood and their merit so obvious.
Gov. Mary Fallin this week rejected an idea aimed at ensuring that state agencies are operating as efficiently as possible. Fallin vetoed Senate Bill 907, which would have created a Joint Legislative Committee on Accountability. The panel would have included legislators from both sides of the aisle — an effort to avoid claims that partisan points were being sought — as well as two members from the private sector, who could review executive branch agencies and request performance audits. In her veto, Fallin said the governor and legislators already have avenues available to ask for audits. But they seldom do, and that isn't likely to change. “For 20 years, people have been talking about this. It hasn't happened,” a miffed state Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones said. “This bill would make it happen.” Lawmakers approved SB 907 by votes of 44-0 in the Senate and 87-5 in the House. We'll see if that support translates into a veto override.