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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Affordable Care Act
10:36 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Oklahoma AG Files Brief In Hobby Lobby Case

Credit Oklahoma Attorney General E. Scott Pruitt / Facebook

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has filed a brief in support of Hobby Lobby as its challenge to a portion of the Affordable Care Act moves forward at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Hobby Lobby is challenging a portion of the nation's new health care law that would require it to supply certain types of contraception to its employees. The Supreme Court is slated to hear arguments in March.

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U.S. Senate
9:53 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Bridenstine Says He Won't Run For Open Senate Seat

U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) speaking during a 2013 town hall meeting.
Credit Congressman Jim Bridenstine / Facebook

Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine says he won't run for the Oklahoma U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Tom Coburn.

Bridenstine said Wednesday in a statement that he has been "honored and overwhelmed" by people encouraging him to run ever since Coburn announced his resignation earlier this month. But Bridenstine said he decided not to enter the race after "serious consideration and prayer."

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Politics and Government
7:46 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Oklahoma Congressional Delegation Not Impressed With State Of The Union

President Obama delivers his 2014 State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress Tuesday, January 28, 2014.
Credit The White House / YouTube

Most of Oklahoma’s all-Republican Congressional delegation panned President Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address he delivered to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night.

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe says the President made it clear he would continue to bypass Congress, and use a “pen and phone” to get work done. Inhofe says Americans will see this play out with a Climate Action Plan the president unveiled last summer.

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It's All Politics
5:29 am
Wed January 29, 2014

5 Things We Learned From The President's Speech

President Obama delivers his State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.
Larry Downing Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 8:21 am

Much of what was in President Obama's fifth State of the Union address was expected — it was signaled for days leading into the speech. Even so, there were a few revealing moments.

Here are five that stood out:

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The Two-Way
8:01 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Decrying Washington Stalemate, Obama Calls For 'Year Of Action'

A woman bundled against the cold walks past the U.S. Capitol dome prior to President Obama's State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on Tuesday.
Brendan Smialowski AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 21, 2014 1:00 pm

With the country slowly digging itself out of recession, some of his legislative priorities buried under Washington's partisanship and his approval ratings at some of their lowest levels, President Obama called for "a year of action" during his fifth State of the Union address on Tuesday.

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Eric McCray's First Time In Political Arena
6:20 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Oklahoma City Businessman Plans Run For Senate

Credit DonkeyHotey / Flickr.com

A Republican Oklahoma City businessman says he plans to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Tom Coburn.

Eric McCray told The Associated Press on Tuesday he's running to "bring a message to Washington."

The 33-year-old contractor for McCray and Sons Heat & Air says this is the first time he's run for office.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
3:27 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Deal Struck to Avoid New Border Dispute Between Oklahoma And Texas

Credit James Rintamaki / Flickr Creative Commons

Determining exactly where the border between Oklahoma and Texas is along the Red River has been a touchy subject for more than a century.

And when it was discovered that one of the pumps that provides water to the North Texas Municipal Water District was actually it Oklahoma, it was shut down, as Texas Gov. Rick Perry called for negotiations.

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The Fresh Air Interview
2:17 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Pete Seeger Remembers Guthrie, Hopping Trains And Sharing Songs

Pete Seeger.
Joe Kohen WireImage

Originally published on Tue January 28, 2014 1:48 pm

Pete Seeger believed songs were a way of binding people to a cause. He popularized "This Land is Your Land" and "We Shall Overcome" and wrote "If I Had a Hammer." In 1940s, he co-founded The Weavers, who surprised everyone, including themselves, when they became the first group to bring folk music to the pop charts — until they were black listed. Seeger refused to answer questions about his politics when he appeared before House Un-American Activities committee in 1955.

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U.S. Senate
12:43 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

UPDATE: Oklahoma Speaker Formally Announces Senate Candidacy

Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon (R-Lawton) speaking at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland.
Credit Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons

Updated January 29, 2014 at 1:48 p.m.

Oklahoma's Republican House Speaker T.W. Shannon officially kicked off his U.S. Senate campign at the Tulsa Historical Society Wednesday morning, criticizing Washington for what he says is a failure to effectively address the national debt.

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Shots - Health News
11:50 am
Tue January 28, 2014

Key Senate Republicans Offer Their Plan To Replace Obamacare

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., is one of the sponsors of a Republican proposal to rewrite the Affordable Care Act.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Tue January 28, 2014 8:41 am

Republicans have offered a wide array of proposals to "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act since it became law in 2010. But few have come with the pedigree of the plan just unveiled by a trio of senior Senate Republicans.

The Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility and Empowerment Act, or CARE for short, is a proposal being floated by Sens. Richard Burr, R-N.C., Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Tom Coburn, R-Okla.

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