State Capitol
8:49 am
Thu July 24, 2014

Oklahoma Senate Leader Appoints Final Three To Repair Panel

Barricades surround the south steps of the Oklahoma Capitol.
Credit Meghan Blessing / KGOU

The leader of the Oklahoma Senate has approved three members to a committee that will oversee a $120 million renovation of the state Capitol.

Read more
StateImpact Oklahoma
7:36 am
Thu July 24, 2014

Why Oklahoma’s Wind Energy Future Could Be Shaped By Osage County

Bob Hamilton, director of the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve near Pawhuska, Okla.
Joe Wertz StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma is moving up the national ranks in wind-generated electricity. But as wind farms expand into northeastern Oklahoma, developers are facing a team of unlikely allies: oil interests and environmentalists.

Wind farm developers encounter opposition wherever projects are planned, but the debate in Oklahoma is perhaps most magnified in Osage County, where there’s a confluence of money, government and prairie politics.

Read more
Health
7:43 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Central Oklahoma Ozone Alert Day: Thursday July 24

Credit Simone Ramella / Flickr Creative Commons

The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality says Thursday will have conditions favorable to the formation of ground-level ozone air pollution, and declared an Ozone Alert Day for July 24.

Read more
Oklahoma News
7:28 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Number Getting Earthquake Insurance Increasing

Credit Ray Bouknight / Flickr Creative Commons

The recent increase in earthquakes within the state has raised both awareness and the purchase of earthquake insurance, according to Kelly Collins, communications director with the Oklahoma Insurance Department.

According to Collins, in 2011 only 3 percent of most insurance companies’ customers had earthquake insurance.

That number has now tripled with an estimated 15 percent of customers holding such policies.

This conclusion came from a survey done by Collins of the top five homeowners insurance companies in the state who make up 70 percent of the industry.

Read more
Education
7:07 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Oklahoma Schools Get 1.2 Percent Increase In Per-Pupil Funding

Credit Nick Conroy / Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma schools are receiving their allocation for the new fiscal year, and districts are receiving an increase of about $38 per student.

The state Department of Education announced Wednesday it has released its allocations to school districts for the 2015 fiscal year.

The initial allocation is $3,077 per student, compared to $3,039 last year.

A budget agreement reached between Gov. Mary Fallin and the Oklahoma legislature this year resulted in an $80 million increase in funding for common education.

Read more
Voted 5-1 To Delay
6:18 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

State Board Of Education Votes To Delay Developing Education Standards

Credit Todd Binger / Flickr.com

The State Board of Education has again voted to delay a formal plan for adopting new education standards in math and English amid opposition to the proposal by three education groups that represent public school boards and administrators from across Oklahoma.

The board voted 5-1 Wednesday to delay action on the plan designed to seek input from subject matter experts, parents and teachers. State Superintendent Janet Barresi was the lone dissenting vote and raised concerns that the education groups wanted to "hijack this process."

 

Read more
Will Study Tribal Areas
4:53 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

EPA Awards University Of Tulsa Nearly $920,000 To Study Indoor Air Quality

Credit Texas Leather Furniture / Flickr.com

The University of Tulsa has been awarded nearly $920,000 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to study methods to improve indoor air quality in tribal areas and reduce asthma triggers in schools.

The award to the school was announced by the agency Wednesday.

Air quality information from the Cherokee Nation of northeast Oklahoma, the Nez Perce Tribe Reservation and surrounding area of west central Idaho and the Navajo Nation in the Shiprock, New Mexico, region, will be used to study the health impacts of climate change and indoor air pollution on tribal communities.

Read more
Oklahoma Watch
11:46 am
Wed July 23, 2014

Information Scarce On ‘Dark Money’ Group In Superintendent Campaign

Brian Hardzinski KGOU

An independent expenditure group that paid for television advertisements opposing State Superintendent Janet Barresi in last month’s primary has not filed required spending reports with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission.

Read more
StateImpact Oklahoma
11:14 am
Wed July 23, 2014

Federal Money Flows To Oklahoma For Water Infrastructure Fixes

Broken Bow Dam
Christopher Caldwell Flickr Creative Commons

Over the past week, Oklahoma has secured more than $37 million in federal funding for dam improvements across the state and for water system repairs in communities with aging pipes and treatment plants.

First, on July 18, the federal government announced a national dam assessment and repair program made possible by an “almost 21 fold” increase in funding for watershed rehabilitation under the 2014 Farm Bill. $26.4 million will go to Oklahoma.

Read more
Oklahoma Tornado Project
9:30 am
Wed July 23, 2014

Auditing The Storm: Cities, State Scramble To Spend Community Storm Grants

A photograph giving an overhead view of tornado damage in Moore, Oklahoma on May 21, 2013.
Oklahoma National Guard Wikipedia Commons

More than half of the federal disaster funds being offered to Oklahoma for recovery from the violent storms of 2013 are in the form of community development grants.

But that cash aid comes with strings attached. And those strings have state and local officials scrambling to figure out how to spend the money effectively and whether they can meet federal deadlines in spending all of the grant funds, totaling $146 million. Whatever is not spent will be left on the table.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has approved two rounds of community development block grants tied to Disaster 4117, which covers the severe tornadoes and storms that struck in 21 counties between May 18 and June 2 last year. These grants can be used for housing, economic development, infrastructure and prevention against future damage.

The state of Oklahoma was awarded $93.7 million, to be distributed to local governments; Moore received two direct awards totaling $52.2 million.

One of the biggest challenges in spending the money is a requirement that more than half of the grant funds be spent to benefit low- to moderate-income people or areas affected by a disaster. Low to moderate income is defined as those living at or below 80 percent of a metropolitan area’s median income level. In Oklahoma City, that equated to $48,000 for a family of four in 2013.

Read more

Pages