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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State Capitol
9:46 am
Fri February 28, 2014

Cherokee Nation Officials Like A Possible Oklahoma Native American Cabinet Post

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker
Credit Cherokee Nation

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker is applauding efforts to create a cabinet level position in the Oklahoma governor's office that would be dedicated to Native American affairs.

State Democratic Rep. Chuck Hoskin of Vinita has authored a bill that would create an executive branch cabinet secretary of Native American Affairs. The secretary would be designated the Oklahoma Native American liaison. Hoskin is also the Cherokee Nation chief of staff.

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Oklahoma City
8:42 am
Fri February 28, 2014

How Will OKC Handle 900,000 Residents? City Government Seeks Answers

If you think it's crowded at events like the Festival of the Arts now, what will it be like when Oklahoma City's population hits 900,000?
Credit Arts Council of Oklahoma City

Oklahoma City residents are invited to attend any of seven workshops and offer their opinions on how the city should grow.

The planokc workshops begin Monday and run through March 12.

About 600,000 people live in Oklahoma City now, and planners say the population is projected to grow in the state's largest city to around 900,000 during the next 40 years.

Workshop attendees can view examples of how Oklahoma City could accommodate an additional 300,000 people and around 170,000 jobs. Residents can also share their opinions about how the city should grow.

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Music
7:38 am
Fri February 28, 2014

Norman Native Performs Mozart With OKC Phil

Yolanda Kondonassis
Credit Robert Muller

Grammy-nominated and Norman native, harpist, Yolanda Kondonassis performs with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic at 8 p.m. March 1 at the Civic Center.

The program will features Kondonassis performinig Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp in C Major, K.299 with flutist Marina Piccinini. The program will also include Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 both under the direction of Joel Levine.

Kondonassis says performing for a “hometown” crowd is fun because she sees friends and others she knows.

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Creates new department
6:24 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

Bill To Consolidate State Agencies Clears House Committee

Credit carletaorg / Flickr.com

A plan to consolidate Oklahoma's arts, history and tourism agencies into one new organization has narrowly cleared a House committee.

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Has Been Found Unconstitutional in other states
3:59 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

Oklahoma House Passes Abortion Legislation Requiring Providors To Have Clinical Privileges

Credit bjmccray / Flickr.com

The Oklahoma House has approved legislation requiring abortion providers to have clinical privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their practice.

The House voted 73-9 for the measure Thursday and sent it to the Senate for consideration. It is one of several anti-abortion measures filed in the 2014 Oklahoma Legislature.

The measure author, Republican Rep. Mike Ritze of Broken Arrow, says it is designed to protect unborn children and women who may develop medical complications during an abortion.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
3:02 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

Insurance Agents Say More Oklahomans Are Seeking Earthquake Coverage

Credit Great Beyond / Flickr Creative Commons

Very few Oklahomans carry earthquake insurance, less than 1 percent. But that’s beginning to change as the state experiences more and more temblors.

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Oklahoma Politics
2:16 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

Email: Brogdon Now Focused On U.S. Senate

Credit Randy Brogdon / Facebook

A former state lawmaker has dropped his Republican primary challenge to Gov. Mary Fallin, and says he plans to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Tom Coburn.

In a fundraising email Thursday obtained by eCapitol, former state Sen. Randy Brogdon says he started assembling a campaign organization to run for governor shortly after Christmas. He says he initially wanted to support U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine for the Senate post, but when Bridenstine decided to stay in the House, Brogdon started to “take the encouragement to run more seriously.”

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StateImpact Oklahoma
1:51 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

VIDEO: Propane Prices Continue Drop, But Remain Much Higher Than In Any Other Year

After reaching a national average of just over $4 per gallon, and around $5 in some spots in the midwest, propane prices are falling, mainly because of lighter demand amid warming temperatures.

Still, though, the current average of $3.48 per gallon is more than a dollar higher than the price this time last year.

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Health
1:06 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

Death Toll From Flu In Oklahoma Rises To 51

Credit NHSE / Flickr Creative Commons

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reports three more deaths in the state due to the flu.

The department said Thursday that 51 people have died as a result of the flu during the current flu season to add to the record number of flu-related deaths.

The previous record of 46 flu-related deaths in 2009 was broken last week.

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State Capitol
12:19 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

Senate Approves Quarter Percent Oklahoma Income Tax Cut

The Senate passed a bill by Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman (R-Sapulpa) that would lower Oklahoma's income tax rate to below 5 percent if the state’s economy continues to improve.
Credit Oklahoma Senate

KGOU's Kurt Gwartney reports Senate Democrats focused their questions about the tax cut bill on the lack of funding for core state services like education and public safety.

The state Senate approved a bill Thursday morning that would cut the Oklahoma income tax rate a quarter of a percent down to five. The bill passed on a 32-10 margin, with mostly Democrats opposing it.

Minority leader Sean Burrage (D-Claremore) argued nearly 40 percent of residents won't see any tax break, and would rather have the state pay for good schools, rather than receive less than $100 back on their income taxes. 

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