Special Report: Auditing The Disaster Aid For 2013 Tornadoes And Storms

Federal public-assistance funds are paying for the rebuilding of Plaza Towers Elementary School, in which seven children died in the May 20, 2013, tornado. The school is expected to open next month.
Clifton Adcock Oklahoma Watch

The tornadoes and storms that devastated Oklahoma and killed 34 last year triggered the release of tens of millions of dollars in federal and state aid that will keep flowing for years.

To date, the federal government has approved up to $257 million in disaster assistance of various kinds to help re build damage and help victims of the winds and flooding that struck between May 18 and June 2, 2013, and to mitigate future risks.

The state has contributed an additional $10.5 million, and private insurers are paying about $1.1 billion. Charities also have pumped in aid.

The relief aid stemming from Disaster No. 4117, as it is called by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is arriving through several channels, heading ultimately to state and local agencies, contractors, businesses and individuals.

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Some House Committees Get New Leaders
6:19 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

New Speaker Of The House Hickman Announces Changes In Leadership

Credit Oklahoma State Legislature

The newly elected speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives has announced several changes to the chairs and vice chairs of various House committees.

Republican Speaker Jeff Hickman announced the leadership changes on Tuesday.

Among the major changes were Norman Rep. Aaron Stiles replacing Rep. Leslie Osborn as chair of the Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Mike Reynolds replacing Rep. Jason Murphey as chair of the Government Modernization and Accountability Committee. Osborn will now chair a budget subcommittee instead.

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Lacked three votes
4:41 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

No More Tax Credits For Film Industry

Credit twoshortplanks / Flickr Creative Commons

The Oklahoma House has defeated legislation to extend a tax credit program for the film industry.

House members voted 48-43 for the measure Monday — three short of the 51 votes needed to pass in the 101-member House. Its author, Republican Rep. Todd Thomsen of Ada, kept the measure alive by announcing a plan to reconsider the vote.

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Manager's Desk
3:23 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

Tornado Preparedness Public Forum

Path of the El Reno Tornado on May 31, 2013.
Credit Norman Forecast Office / National Weather Service

This week, I’m inviting you to an important public forum about tornado preparedness and storm safety on Wednesday, March 12 at the Moore Public Library.

You’ve heard KGOU's special reporting project that is funded by CPB -- Ahead of the Storm: The Oklahoma Tornado Project. This public meeting is part of this project.

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The Two-Way
12:09 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

Russia Denies Issuing Ultimatum Or Warning Ukraine Of 'Storm'

Armed men in military uniform, believed to be Russian soldiers, were outside the territory of a Ukrainian military unit in Bakhchisaray, on the Crimean Peninsula, on Monday.
Maxim Shipenkov EPA/LANDOV

Originally published on Mon March 3, 2014 3:21 pm

Update at 12:45 p.m. ET: "Total Nonsense," Russian Official Reportedly Says:

Any claims that the Russian military has warned Ukraine to surrender in Crimea or face an assault on Tuesday are "total nonsense," a Russian Defense Ministry official says, according to The Voice of Russia.

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Oklahoma Watch
11:04 am
Mon March 3, 2014

Fallin To Release Withheld Emails After Leaving Office

Gov. Mary Fallin
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Thirty-one documents related to the Affordable Care Act that Gov. Mary Fallin has refused to release and that are the subject of a lawsuit against her will be archived and made available to the public after Fallin leaves office, her spokesman said.

Fallin’s office, however, has not yet decided whether to stipulate that release of the archived records be delayed for a certain period after her term ends.

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State Capitol
9:33 am
Mon March 3, 2014

House Leaders Link Pension Overhaul To Pay

Credit LLudo / Flickr Creative Commons

A state lawmaker says members of the Oklahoma House are urging the Senate and Gov. Mary Fallin to commit funding targeted pay increases before signing off on a pension overhaul bill.

State Rep. Leslie Osborn's (R-Mustang) measure would revamp the state's employee compensation system. Osborn says her plan will force lawmakers to make some hard financial decisions in other areas.

The Oklahoman reports Osborn has the support of Republican House Speaker Jeff Hickman of Fairview.

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The Two-Way
8:39 am
Mon March 3, 2014

What A Blast: As Snow Ends, Wicked Cold Moves In

On the road again: This plow was at work on Sunday in Lawrence, Kan. The storm that hit there has spread east.
Orlin Wagner AP

Originally published on Mon March 3, 2014 5:24 pm

Update at 6:11 p.m. ET. Now The Cold:

Most of the snow is now off shore. What comes next is bitter — perhaps historic — cold for parts of the Midwest and East that's more reminiscent of January, than the beginning of meteorological spring. Here's how Accuweather sums it up:

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Oklahoma Tornado Project
7:30 am
Mon March 3, 2014

A Battle Of Words: School Shelter Hearing Goes To State Supreme Court

Take Shelter Oklahoma spent Fall 2013 gathering signatures for its initiative petition and State Question 767. The group fell short by more than 30,000.
Credit Kurt Gwartney / KGOU

When the school shelter advocacy group Take Shelter Oklahoma formed several months ago, its goal was simple: to obtain enough signatures to get a $500 million bond issue on the ballot and use that money to build safe rooms in schools to protect kids from tornadoes. 

The group’s path has become a winding one, the most recent turn was at the State Supreme Court in a fight against Attorney General Scott Pruitt. 

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The Two-Way
1:48 pm
Sun March 2, 2014

Get Ready For Yet Another Winter Storm

The National Weather Service calls for snow, ice or a "wintery mix" across much of the nation.
National Weather Service

Originally published on Sun March 2, 2014 8:44 pm

This post was updated at 4:30 p.m. ET.

It already has an ominous-sounding name: Winter Storm Titan. And it has much of the nation's mid-section in its sights.

The storm is the same system that that caused flash-flooding in California on Saturday and is now heading the Midwest and the Deep South on Sunday, where it will dump snow, ice or some combination of the two over a large swath of the country, according to The Weather Channel.

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Assignment: Radio
12:00 pm
Sun March 2, 2014

Assignment: Radio March 2, 2014

It’s the first episode of the Spring 2014 season for Assignment: Radio. This week theme “Best Of” shows off the best stories of the last semester of Assignment: Radio, Spring 2013. From traveling around the world to awkward first kisses this episode has something for everyone. 

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