National Weather Service Office in Norman, Oklahoma

Flooding The Major Concern As Saturday Storms Begin

Updated 10:30 a.m. The national weather service in Norman has issued a flash flood warning for eastern and southeastern Mills County in western Oklahoma until 1:15 p.m. At 10:16 a.m. doppler radar indicated thunderstorms producing heavy rain. Up to two inches of rain have already fallen across eastern Roger Mills County affecting Cheyenne and Strong City, and Angora and Berlin are also at risk. Additional rainfall amounts of one to two inches are possible in the warned area. Early Saturday...
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National Weather Service Office in Norman, Oklahoma

Updated 10:30 a.m. The national weather service in Norman has issued a flash flood warning for eastern and southeastern Mills County in western Oklahoma until 1:15 p.m. At 10:16 a.m. doppler radar indicated thunderstorms producing heavy rain. Up to two inches of rain have already fallen across eastern Roger Mills County affecting Cheyenne and Strong City, and Angora and Berlin are also at risk. Additional rainfall amounts of one to two inches are possible in the warned area.

child reading
John Morgan / Flickr Creative Commons

The Oklahoma Legislature has approved a bill making it easier for Oklahoma third-graders to advance to fourth grade even if they can't demonstrate basic reading skills.

The House and Senate both voted Friday to approve a bill that extends the use of "reading teams" for the next three school years.

The teams that include a child's parent, teachers and reading specialist would be allowed to promote third-graders who score unsatisfactory marks on state-mandated reading tests.

What Budget Drama’s End May Mean For Key State Services

4 hours ago
State Reps. Elise Hall (far right) and Katie Henke (center) applaud as the state House adjourns sine die Friday afternoon.
M. Scott Carter / Oklahoma Watch

The 55th session of the Oklahoma Legislature adjourned for the year late Friday afternoon, quietly ending four months’ worth of fighting over money, morals and museums.

For most of the session, a shadow hung over everything: a $611 million budget hole. 

Lawmakers chose to adjourn the session a week early, just days after they wrapped up work on the state’s $7.2 billion budget.

The budget cut funding to career and technology education, higher education and transportation. At the same time, more funds were steered to mental health services, public safety and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. Even with budget hikes, however, key agencies said they would likely have to cut spending.

In a move that surprised many, the Legislature approved a $25 million bond issue for the beleaguered American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma City and a second $25 million bond issue for a museum of popular culture in Tulsa.

Lawmakers also debated issues such as same-sex marriage.

The shrinking pool of money available for appropriation quickly became the session’s central theme.

In February, after the Board of Equalization certified a funding estimate millions below the 2014 prediction, lawmakers went into damage-control mode. They warned agency heads little money would be available for next year.

“We’ve been telling them all session there would be cuts,” said Rep. Dennis Casey, R-Moorison, vice-chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee.

By May, agency directors were convinced.

Oklahoma House of Representatives Chamber
http://www.oklegislature.gov/

The Oklahoma Legislature has adjourned the 2015 legislative session one week earlier than is required.

The presiding officer of the Senate dropped the gavel shortly after 3 p.m. Friday and two hours later the House also adjourned sine die, a Latin phrase that literally means "without day."

The Oklahoma Legislature is constitutionally required to adjourn by the last Friday in May, but lawmakers rushed to complete their work this week to finish before the Memorial Day weekend.

Former state Rep. Randy Terrill
Oklahoma House of Representatives

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals has upheld the bribery conviction of former state Rep. Randy Terrill and denied an appeal by former Sen. Debbe Leftwich.

Terrill — a Republican — was convicted and sentenced to a year in prison for offering Leftwich — a Democrat — an $80,000-a-year job at the state medical examiner's office if she would not run for re-election in 2010 so a Republican could seek the seat. Leftwich was convicted of accepting a thing of value to withdraw as a candidate and was given a one-year suspended sentence.

An artist's rendering of the proposed Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture (OKPOP) in Tulsa.
Oklahoma Historical Society

One day after failing to pass a $25 million bond proposal to build a new museum in Tulsa, the Oklahoma House reversed course and narrowly passed a plan to build the facility dedicated to the state's icons of popular culture.

The House voted 51-40 Friday to approve the bond issue, one day after the same measure fell seven votes short of passing. A bill needs 51 votes to pass in the House.

It now heads to Gov. Mary Fallin for consideration.

Oklahoma City residents packed a public meeting about an oil company's proposal to drill near Lake Hefner, a city water supply. Residents were concerned about water and air pollution, truck traffic and noise, and earthquakes.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Legislature is sending a message to towns, cities and counties: Don’t try to ban fracking.

Oklahoma legislators were inspired by the November 2014 voter-approved city fracking ban enacted in Denton, Texas. And, like their counterparts in Texas, they were determined to make such action illegal.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Oklahoma City
Kate Carlton Greer / KGOU

Updated 12:05 p.m. Gov. Jeb Bush calls for increased homeland security

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush opened his speech talking about family and “love at first sight.” The crowd cheered loudly when he mentioned how proud he was of his brother and his parents. 

Bush spent a bulk of his time discussing the economy, saying the county needed to reevaluate what it was doing.

“We can’t have a government we can’t afford and allow it to grow,” Bush said, highlighting his veto history while he was the governor.

Heavy flooding at the intersection of Main Street and Lahoma Ave. in Norman on May 19, 2015.
Steven Anderson / Twitter

Updated 7:49 p.m. National Weather Service forecaster warns of potentially "deadly flood and flash flood event” over the Memorial Day weekend.  

Hong Kong and China flags
Whampoa Sports Club / Flickr

This week, KGOU’s World Views host Suzette Grillot and contributor Rebecca Cruise discuss China’s role as a global power and the ways in which it has been exerting that power.

China Finds Opportunity For Investment In Struggling Brazilian Economy

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