OKLAHOMA received a rare blessing this week — drenching July rains and unseasonable temperatures. Ponds and streams are looking better as a result, including in western parts of the state that have been especially hard hit by three years of drought.
The extended dry spell prompted a bill, approved by the Legislature this year, to help cities and towns stretch their water supplies through reuse and conservation. It directs the state Department of Environmental Quality to lead the way and establish rules and permitting requirements for projects.
State Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, who sponsored the bill with Rep. Scott Martin, R-Norman, told stateline.org that Oklahoma faces water challenges “not just today but looking down the road. … It’s hard to envision a plan that doesn’t require some type of reuse.”
Oklahoma is hardly alone. A Government Accountability Office report this year showed 36 states used reclaimed wastewater in 2013, 10 more than were doing so a decade earlier.
At a water law conference this spring in Oklahoma City, J.D. Strong, executive director of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, noted that conservation was a key component in the 2012 update to the state’s comprehensive water plan. He said recycling water, reusing water and using marginal-quality water when fresh, treated water isn’t needed were some of the strategies that can help Oklahoma meet its long-term needs.
“What we’re suggesting, and I think the Water for 2060 Act suggests, is there are alternatives and solutions that can have a big impact,” he said.
Oklahoma is wise to embrace these ideas: The state needs an adequate water supply to grow and prosper. As we’ve seen all too often through the years, Mother Nature doesn’t consistently hold up her end of the bargain.
On second thought
President Barack Obama won re-election in 2012 with 51 percent of the popular vote, compared with 47 percent for his Republican opponent, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Now a growing number of people regret their votes. A new CNN poll found that, if given the chance to conduct the election again, Romney would beat Obama by a margin of 53 percent to 44 percent. This is the second time CNN has found the public cooling to Obama and warming to Romney. A similar poll released in November found, at that time, Romney would have led by 49 percent to 45 percent in the hypothetical rematch. Obama thoroughly demonized Romney in 2012, yet even after that smear job people now find Romney preferable. It appears many Americans are realizing a painful truth: A high price must be paid for buyer’s remorse when it comes to picking presidents.
The federal government has been paying people to get stoned on marijuana and then drive a car. The project, conducted at the University of Iowa’s National Advanced Driving Simulator, is part of an effort to determine if regulators should set a specific threshold for declaring someone too stoned to drive. This is similar to the drunken-driving threshold. Perhaps such research is necessary now that two states have legalized marijuana. Even so, this controlled experiment isn’t without irony. Take this tidbit from USA Today: “Because the university has a smoke-free campus, the volunteers had to use a vaporizer to consume their marijuana, which was furnished under strict rules by a federal garden at the University of Mississippi.” It’s just another example of the incompatibility of two public policy goals that both have growing support: the drive to make public spaces smoke-free, and the drive to legalize marijuana.
That’s a stretch
MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd” recently named four Oklahoma state lawmakers as “rising stars.” Such rankings are always subjective and often rely on second-hand information. Still, we were mildly surprised by the rationale given for highlighting state Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman. “She’s a potential candidate to be the next House speaker,” Todd said, “depending on what happens with control, of course, of the Legislature.” That’s a huge if, since Republicans have a 72-29 edge in the House. Democrats would need to pick up 22 seats just to win a bare majority. So even if Virgin has the support of a majority of her caucus to become House speaker today — another big if — that could easily change should the caucus nearly double in size. There may be good reasons to call Virgin a rising Democratic star, but naming her a potential speaker-in-waiting is a real stretch.
A CBS/New York Times/YouGov poll finds GOP Gov. Mary Fallin is supported by a majority of Hispanics and more than one in five black voters, yet she remains in a tighter-than-expected re-election race. Fallin’s support remains under 50 percent. She leads Democratic opponent Joe Dorman by a margin of 49 percent to 40 percent. Fallin was elected in 2010 with slightly more than 60 percent of the vote. Dorman’s current total basically equals that of the 2010 Democratic gubernatorial nominee, but the poll suggests some former Fallin voters may have drifted to the Democratic camp. Dorman’s supporters include 10 percent of self-described conservatives. Although facing Oklahoma’s first female governor, Dorman narrowly wins the women’s vote. And he is supported by 40 percent of white voters. These may be strange times in Oklahoma politics. Or this may simply be a bad poll. Time will tell.
Not crazy about conservatives
Emails released this week should put to rest any doubt as to whether Lois Lerner had a political bent while on the job at the Internal Revenue Service. Lerner once ran the IRS agency charged with vetting applications for tax-exempt status. Conservative groups especially were put through the wringer, with groups that had “tea party” or “patriot” in their names made to wait months or years for the agency to act. Lerner has twice invoked her Fifth Amendment privileges when called before Congress for an explanation. In one email released this week by the House Ways and Means Committee, Lerner calls conservatives “crazies.” In another, she calls them “a—holes.” They were part of an exchange with an unnamed associate in 2012. Lerner may not want to testify before Congress, but her sentiments in these notes say plenty about her feelings regarding conservatives.
Some folks have all the luck
The odds are one in 2.1 million that any one person will win one of the top prizes in Indiana’s $120 Million Cash Spectacular Scratch-off lottery. Robert Hamilton has done it twice in three months. Hamilton, of Indianapolis, won $1 million from the scratch-off ticket he bought last week in that city. He first struck it rich in April, with a ticket bought in a different part of the state. Hamilton called this latest windfall “icing on the cake.” Others know the feeling. In Virginia, a couple won $1 million in a Powerball drawing in March. Later that month, they won $50,000 in a different lottery game, and followed that within days by winning yet another $1 million prize. An Internet search turns up any number of examples where people had all the luck – over and over again. Odds, schmods.