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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StateImpact Oklahoma
8:05 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Hazy Guidance Over Fracking Water Lines Confounds Commissioners And Cowboys

A water line for hydraulic fracturing traverses an oil and gas access road in Woods County.

Hydraulic fracturing and modern oil and gas drilling use a lot of water, a commodity that’s in short supply in northwestern Oklahoma’s booming oilfield.

To get their water, energy companies lay temporary pipelines atop private property, but a county commissioner and a class-action lawsuit are raising questions about the common practice.

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The Two-Way
7:28 am
Thu December 19, 2013

'Duck Dynasty' Dad Doubles Down; Palin Defends Him

Four of the stars of Duck Dynasty, from left to right: Phil Robertson, Jase Robertson (Phil's son), Si Robertson (Phil's brother) and Willie Robertson (Phil's son).
Zach Dilgard AP

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 3:36 pm

Saying that his mission "is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the Bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together," Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson isn't backing away from the comments he's made about gays that have led A&E to suspend him from the popular show indefinitely.

Robertson, in a statement to Fox News' FOX411, goes on to say:

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Business and Economy
6:22 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Oklahoma Finance Officials Project Revenue Decline

Oklahoma Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger
Credit Oklahoma PCA / Flickr Creative Commons

Oklahoma’s top finance official says state agencies should prepare for reduced or flat budgets in the next fiscal year.

“It will be tight,” Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger said describing the prospects for the 2015 fiscal year budget.

Early estimates show the Legislature will have about $6.9 billion to appropriate for the fiscal year that begins July 1. That's about $273 million, or 3.8 percent, less than lawmakers spent on the current fiscal year.

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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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