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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The Two-Way
6:09 am
Wed December 11, 2013

'Something For Everyone To Dislike' In Budget Deal

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, D-Wash., and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., crafted the budget deal.
T.J. Kirkpatrick Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 3:37 pm

  • On 'Morning Edition': NPR's Tamara Keith reports on the budget deal
  • On 'Morning Edition': Sen. Patty Murray speaks with Steve Inskeep

The reviews are coming in for the bipartisan budget deal crafted by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and as the Los Angeles Times says, the package seems to have "something for everyone to dislike."

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Hit A Half-Court Shot At Thunder Game
6:15 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

College Basketball Player Can Keep The $20,000

Cameron Rodriguez
Credit Southwestern College, KS Athletics

A college basketball player who won $20,000 by hitting a half-court shot during an Oklahoma City Thunder game can keep the money.

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics announced Tuesday that Cameron Rodriguez could keep his winnings for use as a scholarship. Rodriguez is a sophomore forward for the Southwestern College basketball team in Winfield, Kan.

He nailed the half-court shot Nov. 18 during the Thunder's home game against the Denver Nuggets.

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TransCanada Received Clearance
4:28 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Crude Oil Being Pumped Into Southern Leg of Keystone XL Pipeline

Credit roy luck / Flickr.com

TransCanada has begun injecting crude oil into its $2.3 billion pipeline between Cushing and the Gulf Coast.

The company says that Saturday's development means the 485-mile pipeline is another step closer to commercial operation.

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Workers' Compensation
1:24 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Oklahoma Supreme Court Hears Workers' Comp. Challenge

Credit steakpinball / Flickr Creative Commons

Opponents of Oklahoma's new workers' compensation law are asking the state Supreme Court to find it unconstitutional.

Supreme Court justices heard oral arguments Tuesday in a lawsuit that alleges the law violates the state Constitution and should be struck down.

Two state lawmakers and a firefighter's organization filed the lawsuit in September. The lawsuit says provisions of the new law would deny treatment and compensation to injured workers under certain circumstances.

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Fresh Air with Terry Gross
1:05 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

How ALEC Serves As A 'Dating Service' For Politicians And Corporations

President Bush speaks to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in Philadelphia, on July 26, 2007.
Mel Evans AP

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 11:07 am

A batch of internal documents recently leaked to The Guardian has revealed new insights into the goals and finances of the secretive group called ALEC. The American Legislative Exchange Council is a group that brings together state legislators and representatives of corporations. Together, they develop model bills that lawmakers introduce and try to pass in their state legislatures.

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Transportation
12:05 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

ODOT Still Concerned With Federal Funds Reimbursement

Credit Oklahoma Department of Transportation

Oklahoma Department of Transportation officials said Monday they are still concerned with federal highway funding and how it will affect ongoing and future projects in the state.

ODOT Director Mike Patterson said in November that the agency is going be more conservative in issuing new projects because of these uncertainties in federal funding. 

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StateImpact Oklahoma
10:38 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Railroads Emerge As 'Rolling Pipelines' In Scramble To Frack New Shale Plays

Credit Russ Allison Loar / Flickr Creative Commons

Some of the best new oil and gas plays are in some of the most remote areas of the country, where there’s little to no pipeline infrastructure to move freshly drilled crude out.

And getting the massive amounts of tracking sand to where is a major issue, too. The answer to both problems? Railroads, as The Oklahoman‘s Paul Monies reports:

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State Capitol
9:06 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Oklahoma House Speaker OKs Hefty Raises For Staff

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

While Gov. Mary Fallin and legislative leaders waited for the completion of an independent study on state employee pay, House Speaker T.W. Shannon approved more than a quarter of a million dollars in annual pay increases for his staff.

Figures released by House officials on Monday show about half of the 117 full-time House employees received raises totaling more than $280,000. The pay hikes for 52 House employees ranged from about 2 percent for a housekeeper to more than 30 percent for three staff attorneys.

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Oklahoma News
7:47 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Oklahoma High Court Takes OPUBCO Case Over Sealed Records

Oklahoma CIty Councilman Ed Shadid
Credit Provided / City of Oklahoma City

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has agreed to take jurisdiction of a case by the parent company of The Oklahoman that seeks sealed divorce records of Oklahoma City mayoral candidate Ed Shadid.

The court said in a Monday order that the Oklahoma Publishing Company has the right to pursue records that a lower court sealed and that it is likely a similar case could arise again.

The court says the judge in the case agreed in 2007 to a joint motion by Shadid and his ex-wife to seal the record.

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The Two-Way
3:53 am
Tue December 10, 2013

WATCH: Local Coverage Of Mandela's Memorial Service

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 11:29 am

Thousands of mourners and dozens of world leaders gathered in Johannesburg, South Africa this morning to celebrate the life of the late Nelson Mandela.

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