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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School Shelters
5:59 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

School Shelter Supporters Ask Supreme Court For More Time

Petitions are completed Monday evening for the Take Shelter Oklahoma organization. The group says it does not have enough signatures to put its petition on the ballot.
Credit Kurt Gwartney / KGOU

The legal battle over the language that would allow Oklahoma voters to decide on a way to pay for tornado shelters in public schools was in court today, but it’s not known when there might be a ruling in the case.

Attorney David Slane, representing the group Take Shelter Oklahoma, told an Oklahoma Supreme Court referee that Attorney General Scott Pruitt missed his deadline to change the title of the group’s initiative petition.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
4:27 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Harold Hamm Says U.S. Oil Industry No Longer Needs Keystone XL Pipeline

Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm
Credit Continental Resources

Harold Hamm, CEO of major Oklahoma-based petroleum producer Continental Resources, used to be against the Keystone XL pipeline.

Then he was for it.

Now he says the pipeline isn’t really needed anymore. 

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Arts and Entertainment
3:15 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Oklahoma Silent Movie Picked For 2013 National Film Registry

A still from the 1920 silent film 'The Daughter of Dawn.'
Credit Oklahoma Historical Society / YouTube

The Library of Congress has selected the Oklahoma movie The Daughter of Dawn as one of 25 films inducted to its 2013 National Film Registry.

The Oklahoma Historical Society says the film registry is a collection of cinematic treasures that represent important cultural, artistic and historic achievements in filmmaking.

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It's All Politics
1:11 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

5 Things We Learned From The Budget Debate

Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., takes a break from the Senate floor Tuesday after a bipartisan budget compromise cleared a procedural hurdle.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 4:08 pm

Now that the bipartisan budget agreement has passed the Senate and is headed for the president's desk, it's a good time to consider some of the takeaways from the past two weeks of congressional Sturm und Drang.

Here are five:

Congress still works, sort of.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
10:47 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Why Oklahoma City Wants The State To Help Fix Its Trash Problem

Credit hermitsmoores / Flickr Creative Commons

In the more rural parts of Oklahoma City there are thousands of residents who don’t pay for trash pickup, and they never have.

Even in 1994, when public health concerns drove the city council to add more than 10,000 rural homes to trash collection routes, many residents started a boycott that’s still going almost 20 years later, as The Oklahoman‘s William Crum reports:

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The Affordable Care Act, Explained
6:54 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Your Questions About The American Health Care Act

There are many questions about the new health care law. Here are some answers.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 7:37 am

In recent months, NPR staff has published a series of questions-and-answer stories related to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Now we've compiled them into an interactive so you can explore answers that are most relevant to you.

There are nearly 80 questions, ranging from who's eligible to how much insurance might cost, among two dozen topics. Filter the list by selecting categories or asking questions.

Did we miss an important question? Let us know.

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The Salt
6:53 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Amid Fields Of Plenty, A Farmworker's Wife Struggles To Feed Her Family

Food banks have become a primary source of nutrition for rural farmworker communities in the Central Valley.
Scott Anger KQED

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 9:25 am

California's San Joaquin Valley is one of the most productive farm regions in the world. But many farmworkers struggle to feed their families fresh and healthy food because they can't afford to buy the produce that grows all around them.

The Ortiz family in Raisin City, Calif., faces this very problem.

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State Capitol
6:05 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Dorman Will Ask Lawmakers To Consider Shelter Bond

Credit benchilada / Flickr Creative Commons

The Legislature will be asked to consider putting a $500,000 bond issue to fund school storm shelters on a statewide ballot, State Rep. Joe Dorman said Tuesday.

The Rush Springs Democrat was the principal architect of an initiative petition effort aimed at getting the issue before voters.

“I absolutely am filing a bill…” to put the question on the ballot, Dorman said Tuesday. “That is going to be my number one goal in this legislative session.”

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Oklahoma Politics
5:13 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Rush Springs Democrat Eyes Governor's Race Against Fallin

State Rep. Joe Dorman (D-Rush Springs)
Credit Oklahoma House of Representatives

A Democratic state representative from Rush Springs says he plans to start raising money for a race against Republican Gov. Mary Fallin in 2014.

State Rep. Joe Dorman (D-Rush Springs) set the stage Tuesday for what he portrayed on one hand as only a possible run for governor. But he said he was confident he would seek the Democratic nomination for the state’s highest elected post.

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Around The State
4:29 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Macy's Opening Fulfillment Center Near Tulsa

Gov. Mary Fallin at the Tulsa Regional Chamber on Tuesday to announce a $170 million Macy's fulfillment center in the Tulsa area.
Credit Gov. Mary Fallin / Facebook

A new Macy's fulfillment center to be built near Owasso is expected to create 2,500 full-time, part-time and seasonal jobs.

Macy's vice president Frank Julian announced during a press conference at the Tulsa Regional Chamber Tuesday that construction on the the 1.3-million-square-foot facility is expected to begin next spring and shipping orders will start in summer 2015.

The facility is expected to create 1,500 full-time and part-time jobs as well as an additional 1,000 temporary seasonal workers to be hired each year.

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