- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Oklahoma newspapers:

Tulsa World. July 10, 2017.

U.S. Sen. James Lankford and nine other Senate Republicans have called on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to cancel the Senate’s August break so that work can continue on critical national priorities.

The House Freedom Caucus has made a similar appeal to its leadership.

We agree.

Congress is scheduled to be off for “state work” for the entire month of August. Lawmakers are scheduled to be at their D.C. desks fewer than 30 days between now and the Sept. 30 end of the federal fiscal year.

Yet, health care reform, a pending debt-ceiling limit, a federal budget and tax reform remain unresolved.

With that sort of unfinished business, we’d think McConnell and the other members of Congress would be ashamed to go home and look their constituents in the eyes.

We aren’t as cynical as some about the amount of work done by members of Congress. We know that whether they’re in Washington or in their home states, they’re serving their constituents, but the kind of things that can be accomplished in Oklahoma are just different from what can get done on Capitol Hill.

And right now our nation needs some productive, decisive, creative, compromise-oriented, bipartisan legislating out of its Congress.

Admittedly, that isn’t the sort of thing we’ve seen much in Washington recently, but it certainly isn’t going to get done anywhere else.

If nothing else, McConnell and the House leadership should cancel the August break as punishment to the members for not making more progress than they have. Washington is a hot, humid southern city in August. Congress should get to enjoy its pleasures until they get their job done.


Enid News & Eagle. July 10, 2017.

We enjoyed reading a touching story of perseverance of a young man dealing with a degenerative disease.

Roberto Duran, 18, achieved his Eagle Scout rank after finishing his Eagle Scout project, which involved building pet beds for animals at the Enid SPCA.

Roberto has muscular dystrophy and is permanently in a wheelchair. Some of his nerves don’t transmit messages from the brain properly, damaging his muscles and making them progressively weaker.

Up until about sixth grade, Roberto was able to walk with the help of leg braces. He began to stumble a lot more often, and several falls resulted in breaking the same elbow three times.

Different accommodations had to be made for his circumstances, but Roberto never let muscular dystrophy stop him in his adventures. He bravely passed the BSA Swim Test and received the swimming merit badge. In addition to the Eagle Scout rank, he’s earned more than 40 merit badges and become a member of the Order of the Arrow, Scouting’s National Honors Society.

Michelle Duran, Roberto’s mother, said watching her son progress through Scouts and grow up has been amazing.

“I’m proud of everything he’s done,” she said. “Just to see him grow up and mature the way he has, he has surprised me, surpassed my expectations for him exceedingly. He’s just my heart.”

For generations, Scouting provides a great growing up experience and allows individuals to step into a huge leadership role to benefit the community.

An Eagle Project pays it forward. It helps the scout and those helping the scout. Meanwhile, the organization benefits as the community using it.

We’re inspired by Roberto’s story and hope it encourages more citizens to pursue Scouting in the future.


The Oklahoman. July 11, 2017:

Like many states, Oklahoma has a long way to go to curb its opioid problem. However, a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides a small dose of good news.

In the report issued July 6, the CDC found that 32 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties, including Oklahoma County, saw decreases in the number of opioids prescribed from 2010-2015. In 12 other counties, prescriptions were stable. (No information was available for 15 counties.)

In 18 counties, however, opioid prescriptions increased during the same five-year period. This included a cluster of nine contiguous counties in far eastern Oklahoma.

The CDC said Pittsburg County in the southeast had the highest amount of opioids prescribed in Oklahoma in 2015. And according to state Health Department data, it also had the seventh-highest rate of opioid overdose deaths.

Nationally, the CDC reported, the overall amount of opioids prescribed fell by 18 percent from 2010 to 2015. That is a welcome development indeed.

The annual prescribing rate by physicians dropped from 81 opioid prescriptions per 100 people in 2010 to 71 prescriptions per 100 people in 2015. That’s a difference of 13 percent. And during this five-year time frame, the number of high-dose prescriptions dropped by 41 percent, from 11.4 per 100 people to 6.7 per 100 people.

Yet researchers at the CDC also noted that not all the news was positive. For example, the length of prescriptions grew from an average of 13 days in 2006 to 18 days in 2015. And, the number of opioids prescribed by doctors is three times greater than in it was in 1999 and far outstrips the number prescribed in Europe.

The CDC’s acting director, Anne Schuchat, said too many Americans are still getting opioid prescriptions at too high a dose and for too long. That’s trouble, because taking these painkillers in high doses for extended stretches increases the likelihood a person will become addicted.

Oklahoma, which has seen more than 2,600 opioid-related deaths in the past three years, is fighting this epidemic on several fronts. A 2015 law required doctors to occasionally check the state’s online prescription database before prescribing opioids, an effort to reduce “doctor shopping” by drug abusers. The state has implemented opioid prescribing guidelines for physicians that largely mirror the CDC’s guidelines. Public health workers have traveled the state to help the public and doctors learn more about the risks associated with opioids.

Attorney General Mike Hunter is forming a special commission, approved by the Legislature, to try to drive down the number of opioid-related deaths in Oklahoma. Hunter recently filed charges against a doctor who is alleged to have been operating a “pill mill.” He also is suing several pharmaceutical companies, saying they greatly understated the risks of addiction to opioid painkillers and overstated their treatment benefits.

This “all of the above” approach is important, because while the CDC report indicates slight gains have been made in Oklahoma, many, many more are needed.

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