- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Oklahoma newspapers:


The Oklahoman, Feb. 10, 2015

Repealing bad laws can be better than passing new ones

Call it the nature of the beast: The first inclination of many lawmakers is to make new statutes. Yet in Oklahoma and elsewhere, economic opportunity would rise if legislators instead repealed old laws that are outmoded or overly burdensome.

Stateline.org highlighted this problem in an article focused on 33-year-old Nivea Earl of Jacksonville, Arkansas. Earl recently opened Twistykinks, a hair braiding salon. The problem for Earl is that her hair braiding service is technically illegal. Arkansas law requires a cosmetology license to braid hair. To meet that requirement, Earl would have to take 1,500 hours of training, pass two exams and pay thousands of dollars to attend a cosmetology school. Those schools, stateline.org notes, don’t “even teach hair braiding.”

Braiding hair doesn’t involve chemicals, cutting or dying hair. Yet state officials insist that Earl be trained to perform those tasks anyway, under the guise of “protecting” the public. The Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm, is representing Earl in litigation challenging the braiding law.

Why should Oklahoma lawmakers care about this case? Because Oklahoma also requires people who braid hair to obtain a license.

The Institute for Justice says Oklahoma is one of 15 states that require hair braiders to obtain a specialty “technician” license. Applicants must complete 600 hours of coursework and pass a practical and written exam (or complete 1,200 hours as an apprentice with a licensed instructor).

In a report issued last July, “Untangling Regulations: Natural Hair Braiders Fight Against Irrational Licensing,” the institute notes, “Many states with a separate license for natural hair braiding have an appalling lack of education options for aspiring braiders. For instance, Ohio and Oklahoma have precisely one school each in the entire state that is licensed to teach braiding.”

The tuition and fees at Oklahoma’s single braiding-training school can run as high as $10,282, according to the institute. It’s not surprising that only 12 hair-braiding licenses were issued in Oklahoma from 2009 to 2012.

In 15 states, braiders don’t need a license or face minimal regulation. Oregon requires reading a PowerPoint presentation and taking a written exam before a braider can legally work, the institute said. “Kansas and Mississippi don’t license braiders and instead require a ‘self-test.’ Braiders read a brochure on infection control and then test their knowledge.”

We haven’t noticed a rash of braiding horror stories emanating from Kansas.

It’s ironic that Oklahoma, supposedly one of the nation’s most conservative states, imposes more heavy-handed government regulation of a minor industry than Oregon, a typically liberal state. California, normally a mecca of big-government thinking, also doesn’t require natural hair braiders to obtain specialized training.

The institute notes that 180 of the 600 hours of training natural hair braiders must take in Oklahoma “is dedicated to teaching entrepreneurs how to run a salon.” It’s “an irony apparently lost on the Sooner State’s bureaucrats” that braiders are forced to “take a course on how to thrive in the free market” by the very entities whose unnecessary regulation is impeding the free market.

Hair braiding is the most glaring example, but Oklahoma imposes similarly excessive regulations on other simple jobs. If legislators want to increase economic prosperity, a good place to start is by repealing regulations that don’t enhance public safety but do create barriers to gainful employment.


Muskogee Phoenix, Feb. 8, 2015

Quality of life website has potential

Gov. Mary Fallin’s online barometer of factors of quality of life in Oklahoma will be helpful to both citizens and legislators.

Fallin unveiled the plan to gauge health, crime, education, and other quality of life factors.

The website will track more than 160 areas of social concern - such as infant mortality, poverty, and graduation rates, according to a CNHI News Service story.

Fallin hopes the system will hold government more accountable for its spending.

That’s always a good idea.

We see merit in the website if the online inputs are honest evaluations.

Interaction with government is a good thing for society.

Oklahoma takes a step forward if the website bridges some of the gaps between the electorate and the elected.

There are some concerns to be addressed in the website.

Some social service leaders say they fear the online gauges ignore the root causes of many ills. They also are concerned about how the statistics will help determine funding.

That’s a valid point.

But we believe the website will provide a better look at Oklahoma’s quality of life and will help legislators better understand their constituents concerns.


The Lawton Constitution, Feb. 8, 2015

Solve problem at its root

New federal ground-level ozone rules that may be applied in Lawton and the rest of the state should get every Lawtonian and Southwest Oklahoman as excited as they were about potential troop cuts at Fort Sill. There is great potential for the government to dig deeper into your wallet.

The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality is traveling the state briefing members of the community and encouraging comments about lowering the standards. The comments must be submitted by March 17. Please see www.epa.gov/glo ? for more information.

Lawton leaders were briefed last week. On some summer days, Lawton might have a difficult time meeting the standards. Monitoring stations were used in previous years, and when the levels were high, suggestions were made to the community - such as fueling, traveling and using air conditioners in the cooler parts of the day - while bus fares were reduced when the ground-level ozone numbers were high.

The current requirement for ground level ozone is 75 parts per billion, but EPA has a proposal to lower it to 65-70 ppb and lowering it further to 60 ppb.

The newer standards, EPA contends, are needed to protect at-risk groups of all ages - children to the elderly - with lung-related diseases. Oklahoma Department of Health was contacted Friday to determine how many people might be identified in those at-risk groups in Comanche County. In 2012, the American Lung Association estimated, there were 2,669 pediatric asthma, 9,670 adult asthma, 6,314 chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and 89 lung cancer patients.

Should the community fail over a three-year period to meet the standards, the city would be out of compliance and that could force consumers to purchase higher-priced, reformulated gasoline during the summer and could jeopardize or reduce federal funding, including funds for highway maintenance and construction.

Where does the ozone come from? Much of it comes from a chemical reaction of the sun heating motor vehicle exhaust, and/or other chemicals and emissions from industrial production that is carried by winds blowing from the south.

No, it’s not coming from industrialization pollution output and the large number of vehicles in Cotton County. It’s coming from deep in the heart of Texas - San Antonio, Houston, Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth. It’s not a problem that has been caused by people in the Sooner State, but rather one neglected by people of the Lone Star State. No doubt ozone is jeopardizing the health of Texans, too.

Yet EPA seeks to force possible sanctions on Lawtonians and other Oklahomans for a problem we did not cause. That is not fair. EPA is looking on the wrong side of the Red River to reduce ozone in Oklahoma.

It’s time to ask EPA what Texas is doing to reduce its pollution that is causing high ozone rates in Oklahoma. How aggressive is EPA with leaders in Austin?

The EPA needs to go to the root of the ozone problem and leave Oklahomans alone.

Meanwhile, Oklahomans need to recall the warnings made by U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, back in the 1990s. Inhofe, who is now the head of the Senate’s Environmental and Public Works Committee, noted EPA officials could someday restrict commerce and limit area farmers from plowing because of particulate matter (dust) in the air caused by plowing.

It’s crazy. The EPA regulations are no laughing matter. It’s time to be reasonable.


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