Oklahoma 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.
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.
Oklahoma City Douglass High School seniors have faced their fair share of challenges, and then some.
After a state audit found up to four of five seniors weren’t on track to graduate, those students often had to make up years of work in far less time. Students attended after-school programs, evening classes, and weekend classes to gain the necessary credits.
The hard work of those who succeeded did not go unnoticed.
In their honor, the Oklahoma Pork Council this week sponsored the “Douglass High School Senior Celebration!” at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, local officials and Douglass alumni attended.
Oklahoma Pork Council official Roy Lee Lindsey declared, “We believe these young people are the future for our state, and we want to recognize the students’ efforts and dedication to their education.”
To that we say, “Well done” — to the council, and especially to Douglass graduates.
“They froze us out completely,” the state lawmaker said. “But they’ve got the power, and they’re using it.”
An Oklahoma Democrat complaining about life in the GOP-controlled Legislature? No. The remark comes from a Republican legislator in Colorado, where Democrats recently passed a bill greatly broadening voter rights.
The new law will let voters register on Election Day, allow residents to move within the state without re-registering at their new address, and create an all-mail ballot system. Not a single GOP member voted in favor.
Republicans have led efforts across the country for stricter voter rules. Colorado’s new law makes it far easier to vote. Time will tell if, as we suspect, this law has made it too easy.
The U.S. Supreme Court has been asked to hear an appeal of a church-state case.
For the Elmbrook School District, near Milwaukee, Wis., graduation ceremonies were a challenge because the high school gym was hot, cramped and uncomfortable. The Elmbrook Church allowed officials to hold the ceremony in the church’s large, modern and air-conditioned sanctuary.
That arrangement worked for a decade, but then nine students and parents sued, claiming the school had violated a constitutional ban on “an establishment of religion” because the sanctuary displayed a large Latin cross. The 7th Circuit Court sided with the plaintiffs; the defendants now want Supreme Court review.
Like so many church-state lawsuits, this one appears driven not by any true state establishment of religion, but by thin-skinned people who think they have a constitutional right to be protected from learning that their neighbors may hold different religious beliefs than their own.
The Census Bureau reported this week that nationally, blacks voted at a higher rate than whites in the 2012 election. It’s the first time that’s happened since the bureau began tracking voting data by race in 1968. Indeed the number of black and Hispanic voters increased from 2008 to 2012, while the number of non-Hispanic white voters fell, which the bureau said “indicates that the 2012 voting population expansion came primarily from minority voters.”
This news is especially ironic because the administration of Barack Obama, our first black president, spent so much time last year working to roll back voter ID laws. Attorney General Eric Holder even likened some of these laws to the poll taxes of the Jim Crow days.
The census data shouldn’t come as a great surprise. In 2008, minority turnout in Georgia and Indiana increased dramatically, as did the turnout of Democrats in general, and those states have the strictest voter ID laws in the country.
Asking for identification at the ballot box is constitutional — so says the U.S. Supreme Court — and as the data shows, it’s no more onerous than asking the same to enter a building or board an airplane or write a check.
For those who believe Washington will definitely make good on its promise to pay for 90 percent of Medicaid expansion in perpetuity, we have a bridge to nowhere to sell you.
Uncle Sam gives and he takes away. Promising to cover 100 percent of Medicaid expansion for three years and 90 percent thereafter could be like so much pie crust — flaky.
The U.S. Forest Service is asking a dozen states to return federal revenue-sharing funds used to fight wildfires. Because of sequestration, it “has no alternative” but to ask for a refund, an agency manager said. Before the Federal Aviation Administration got a sequestration reprieve, the University of Oklahoma was poised to assume air traffic controller duties at a Norman airport.
Governors resisting Medicaid expansion are worried that Washington won’t keep its funding promise. They should be worried that Washington will ask for states to pay for more of existing Medicaid expenses.
We again wonder if the states will eventually be asked to bail out the federal government as it continues its Greece-like march toward insolvency.
Oklahoma County is being honored for its work retooling the former General Motors assembly plant.
District 3 County Commissioner Ray Vaughn got word recently that the county had been chosen the Phoenix Award winner from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 6. The awards are given around the country for brownfield development.
The state Department of Environmental Quality nominated the local project, which over five years transformed the former GM plant into an engine repair and maintenance facility for the U.S. Department of Defense.
The local project will be honored at a banquet next week in Atlanta, where it’ll be in the running for the grand prize or people’s choice awards. Kudos.