Obama Signs Texas Disaster Declaration As Death Toll In Flooding Rises

The number of people who died because of storms that have inundated parts of Texas and Oklahoma this week has hit 25 people, after search crews found a drowned truck driver whose vehicle had overturned in a culvert near Dallas.That's the word from member station KERA, where Lauren Silverman reports that a new batch of storms that hit Dallas-Fort Worth "dumped three to seven inches of rain on an already over-saturated area" Thursday night.All that water created treacherous conditions for...
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Greg Walters / Flickr

A Tulsa federal judge has ruled that an American Indian student at Caney Valley High School can't wear an eagle feather on her graduation cap. 

Chief U.S. District Judge Gregory Frizzell accepted a magistrate's recommendation to deny senior Hayden Griffith's request for a preliminary injunction that would allow her wear the feather during her graduation ceremony Thursday.

There are roughly 4,000 people who serve as reserve police officers and sheriff’s deputies across the state of Oklahoma. Many hold full-time civilian day jobs and volunteer for agencies in their free time.

The role of these volunteers has come under increased scrutiny after a Tulsa County reserve deputy killed a restrained man last month. KGOU’s Kate Carlton Greer reports.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Oklahoma City
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Updated 2:58 p.m. U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum Promotes His Foreign Policy Expertise

U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum touted his foreign policy experience during Thursday’s first general session at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference. The Virginia native has served on the U.S. Armed Services Committee.

Santorum said he knows the United States is “war weary” but insisted it time to take a solid stand against ISIS.

“We have been not acting. We have been doing a public relations war with ISIS, not a real war trying to defeat them,” Santorum said.

He added that U.S. military forces should be expanded to assist Kurdish Peshmerga Forces and the Jordanians. 

Craig Nance, owner of Nance Landscaping in Altus, Okla. says he hasn't done a landscaping job in Altus in three or four years because of the drought.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

This May already ranks as one of the wettest in state history, and continues to snuff out the four-year drought that dried up cities in southwest Oklahoma. Water rationing helped keep Duncan, Lawton, and Altus afloat, but those cities are now scaling back their water saving mandates.

Praise And Worry

Oklahoma House of Reps / YouTube

House lawmakers approved a $7.1 billion budget late Wednesday night just one day after unveiling the plan. It now goes to the Senate on a 54-42 vote that saw several Republicans voting against the bill along with the House’s Democratic minority. The upper chamber is expected to consider the budget Thursday.

Oklahoma House of Representatives Chamber
http://www.oklegislature.gov/

A day after announcing a $7.1 billion budget plan to fund state government and services in the upcoming year, Oklahoma lawmakers are considering legislation to enact it.

House and Senate committees on Wednesday passed a general appropriations bill that will fund much of state government for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The measure was expected to be considered by the full House and Senate Wednesday afternoon or Thursday.

The budget plan takes funds from dozens of agency revolving accounts and other one-time sources of money to ease cuts to many agencies.

Gov. Mary Fallin and other state leaders observe a PowerPoint presentation of revenue projections.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Today, Gov. Mary Fallin signed legislation ending a pair of tax incentives used by wind energy developers. The bills will end the use of an exemption that has ballooned alongside the state’s booming wind industry.

The governor’s signature on Senate Bills 498 and 502 means companies building wind farms after 2016 won’t be eligible for a five-year property tax exemption and another incentive written for manufacturers pumping money into property or employees. The property tax exemption was popular with wind developers, who used it to claim thirty-two million dollars in 2013.

The U.S. Supreme Court is examining whether the death penalty method in Oklahoma constitutes cruel and unusual punishment for using a virtually untested drug called midazolam.

The plaintiffs, several prisoners on death row in the state, brought the case after the botched execution of Clayton Lockett, who took 43 minutes to die on the gurney in April of 2014.

mosquito on fabric
Tom / Flickr

Parts of Oklahoma have seen more than a dozen inches of rainfall over past two weeks, and saturated ground conditions have led to a lot of standing water where it normally wouldn’t pool. That means more mosquitoes, and the potential health concerns the insects carry.

Some low-lying areas are still flooded after the recent May storms, and standing water in nutrient-rich soil is a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. 

Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm at the 2012 Time 100 gala.
David Shankbone / Flickr

Harold Hamm, the billionaire founder and CEO of Continental Resources, denies a report that he told a University of Oklahoma dean he wanted scientists dismissed who were researching links between oil and gas production and Oklahoma’s exponential increase in earthquakes.

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