- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Oklahoma newspapers:

The Journal Record. Aug. 14, 2017.

In the 1950s, one in 50 occupations required a license. Today it’s one in three.

Those 60 years didn’t give us a glut of jobs that put the public at risk; they gave us a government that had to find ways to stay afloat without calling something a tax.

With the help of a task force headed by Labor Commissioner Melissa McLawhorn Houston, Oklahoma might be coming to its senses. Two smart initiatives have already come from the task force’s work that will be included in the final report: a centralized licensure database and a questionnaire that will help determine whether a particular occupation really needs to be licensed at all.

The database will provide information about which occupations require a license, how much it costs, and which agency is responsible for issuing the license. That will immediately eliminate a lot of the confusion and frustration people face when they’re trying to work in a licensed job.

The questionnaire will help lawmakers, boards and agencies drill down on specific occupations to decide whether a license is really necessary.

Public safety is a good reason for some occupational licenses. But there are plenty of occupations that don’t pose much of a threat to the public, hair braiding technician being one. And in a state that wants to brag about being business-friendly, pro-free market, in favor of small government and fostering job creation, forcing people to pay for the privilege of having a $10-per-hour job is inexcusable. That’s especially important to people trying to work their way out of poverty; a hair braiding technician, for example, would spend about $85 to get a license and have to pay for 600 hours of training. The payoff would be a job that pays about $20,000 per year.

When the BLS studied occupational de-licensing, it found that several states have successfully reduced the occupational burden. But the report also offered a warning: “In nearly every instance that we analyzed, de-licensing and de-licensing attempts have been met not only with stiff resistance but also usually (when successful) with a movement to reinstitute licensing. Clearly, these results reflect the lobbying power of the occupations in question and their professional associations.”

We support Commissioner Houston’s plan and plead that any de-licensing be done in a manner that is not easily reversed. Teeth whiteners and hair braiders need that money even more than an Oklahoma state agency.

___

Tulsa World. Aug. 15, 2017.

A collection of racists, anti-Semites and hateful fools sparked a national outrage Saturday, Aug. 12.

The so-called “white nationalists” gathered to protest plans by the city of Charlottesville, Virginia, to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Counter-protesters clashed with the bigots and, later Saturday, one of the men who previously had been part of the “Unite the Right” march drove a car into a group of peaceful protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. Two Virginia state troopers also died when the helicopter they were using to monitor events crashed.

The racist rally was a disgrace, an insult to the things that made America great.

A nation that helped destroy Nazism and finally began to address its history of racial discrimination in the Civil Rights movement, has spawned a cancerous mass of ignorance and hate.

Anyone who thinks our nation’s past is past is wrong.

President Donald Trump initially failed the moral test of Charlottesville. His initial remarks about the incident blamed “many sides” for the violence. There are many sides to hatred, but Trump’s thoughtless statement seemed to conflate victims and perpetrators in an attempt to pander to political supporters no one should want.

The White House subsequently scrambled to repair the damage. On Monday, Trump issued a stronger statement from the White House: “Racism is evil - and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”

We condemn the outrageous racism of the Charlottesville bigots. There should be no place for that sort of hatred in American culture. The killing of Heyer was a detestable act of domestic terrorism, and it cannot be ignored.

Our nation is better than this.

___

The Oklahoman. Aug. 15, 2017.

On the same day the Oklahoma Supreme Court heard challenges to several tax increases approved by the Legislature this year, Republican voters in an Oklahoma City Senate district indirectly rendered their own verdict.

In a special election primary held Aug. 8, seven candidates sought the GOP nomination in Senate District 45. What’s notable is all seven candidates were critical of the Republican-dominated Legislature to one degree or another.

Paul Rosino won the winner-take-all primary with 32.61 percent of the vote. In a mailer, Rosino vowed to stand “against increased government regulation, debt and taxes,” saying, “Government has grown too large and tries to do too many things at a cost most family budgets simply can’t afford.”

That was an implicit criticism of Oklahoma’s GOP leadership.

Second-place finisher Diana Means, who received 21.12 percent, tacitly criticized Republican leaders in a mailer, saying, “My effort and votes will endorse restraint in taxes, limited government, and local control .”

Third-place finisher Brian Walters noted the state still faces large shortfalls despite “past approval of hundreds of millions in new taxes and fees that were supposed to end the shortfalls.”

“We need a senator who will fight for serious budget planning - a senator who will push to bring spending in line with collections .” Walters wrote.

Candidate Kerry Pettingill was similarly blunt. In one mailer he wrote, “Our Republican leaders have forgotten the basic principles of our Party, proposing hundreds of millions of dollars in higher taxes. They want us to pay more so they can spend more.”

Pettingill specifically criticized a new car tax approved by the Legislature, along with efforts to increase income and fuel taxes.

GOP candidate Duane Smith wrote in one mailer, “As a small business owner, I understand that tough times call for creative solutions to make ends meet. But instead of cutting wasteful spending, our politicians come to the people with their hands out asking for higher taxes and fees every time the budget falls short.”

Smith specifically called for repealing the car tax and for again adjusting the standard deduction with inflation.

Mailers from candidate Matthew Hamrick declared he was “committed to cutting the fat, not raising our taxes.” Another candidate, Scott Harris, said he would “fight the moral and fiscally corrupt establishment at our Capitol.”

By the end of the race, Rosino attacked Means because she had family members who once served in the Legislature, others attacked Rosino because he was endorsed by sitting legislators, and Harris proudly touted his lack of legislative endorsements as a selling point, saying those lawmakers “have been failing our state.”

Candidates are political entrepreneurs, and they tailor their messages to emphasize arguments they believe have the most electoral appeal. Thus it’s notable that in this primary, Republican candidates concluded the best message was one that condemned the Republican-controlled Legislature as a body dominated by a tax-and-spend mentality, filled with financially incompetent and even “corrupt” lawmakers.

It’s a sign of Republican challenges that this message resonated - even among the primary voters who are normally the GOP’s most loyal supporters.


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