Top Business Stories: Challenges To New Laws, Sonic Earnings, And "Smart Meter" Concerns

Jun 30, 2014

Two Lawsuits Are Challenging Bills That Were Signed Into Law By Governor Mary Fallin.

A group of parents, teachers and members of the state Board of Education are fighting the repeal of Common Core standards.

They say the bill violates the state Constitution by letting the Legislature take over an executive function.

The bill repeals the Common Core standards, which Fallin initially supported. It says new standards will be developed. Opponents say the language of the law gives the Legislature too much power to review the new guidelines.

A Supreme Court referee will hear the case in July.

Retired Oklahoma City attorney Jerry Fent.
Credit Brent Fuchs/Journal Record

And Attorney Jerry Fent Is Challenging The Bill That Changed Gross Production Taxes On Oil And Gas Wells.

Fent has previously convinced the state Supreme Court that laws were unconstitutional. His lawsuits often say that bills violate a provision that says measures must address only one topic.

A compromise bill set the tax at 2 percent for the first 36 months for all wells. After that, it increases to 7 percent.  Previously, horizontal and vertical wells were taxed differently

Fent says that counts as a revenue bill, and all revenue bills must go to a vote of the people.

He sent a letter to Governor Fallin asking her not to sign it, but she did.

Attorney General Scott Pruitt said he will defend the state’s interests in the matter.

A Sonic Drive-In in Guthrie, OK.
Credit Brent Fuchs/Journal Record

Sonic Reported Strong Earnings Last Week.

Earnings per share for the drive-in restaurants rose 15 percent for the latest quarter.

The company said that same-store sales rose 5.3 percent for the quarter. It also opened 10 new locations.

Sonic has been buying back stock, and has now purchased $69.4 million dollars’ worth of shares.

CEO Cliff Hudson said that things are going well because of a nationwide advertising campaign, even though Sonic is only in 44 states. Earlier this year, Sonic said it wants to add 1,000 drive-ins in the next decade.

Hudson also said customers like limited-time offers such as special discounts.

Those offers have helped the company double chicken sales.

Owasso resident Joe Esposito has concerns about electromagnetic frequency, or EF, radiation that wireless devices emit. He doesn’t want an advanced electricity meter in his home because of the EF radiation the wireless device emits, he told a Corporation Commission administrative law judge on June 25, 2014.
Credit Brent Fuchs/Journal Record

Some PSO Customers Say New Smart Meters Are Causing Health Problems.

One man told the Oklahoma Corporation Commission that his wife suffered a brain hemorrhage less than 24 hours after the meter was installed at their home.

Customers said they wish there were a way to opt out of the program. But the utility says that allowing people to refuse the meters would hurt efforts to conserve energy.

A regulatory consultant also said that the devices fall well within FCC guidelines for emissions.

An OU professor said that the idea of electromagnetic fields causing health problems is controversial.

Margaret Levin Phillips said well-designed studies have showed no association between devices and medical symptoms.


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