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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State Capitol
9:44 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Looting Could Become Felony In Oklahoma

The aftermath of the May 2013 tornado in Moore, Okla.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Senate has approved legislation that makes looting a felony in Oklahoma.

The Senate passed the measure 36-1 Tuesday evening and sent it to the House for consideration.

The measure by Republican Sen. Anthony Sykes of Moore elevates the crime of looting from a misdemeanor offense to a felony, with a penalty for violations ranging from two to seven years in prison.

Sykes says the measure is a response to incidents of looting after a massive tornado destroyed homes and business in Moore last May.

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Death Penalty
9:10 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Oklahoma Attorney General To Respond In Execution Drug Appeal Case

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt
Credit Oklahoma Attorney General's Office

The Oklahoma Attorney General's Office is scheduled to respond to an appeal by two death row inmates who are seeking a stay of execution.

A spokeswoman for Attorney General Scott Pruitt says a response will be filed by noon Wednesday to the appeal and emergency application for a stay filed with the state Supreme Court by lawyers for Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner.

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The Two-Way
8:11 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Ukraine Won't Fight Russia In Crimea, Acting President Says

Their nation's flag was draped over a stop sign last week as Ukrainian soldiers stood guard inside part of the Belbek air base outside Sevastopol, Crimea. Other soldiers, said to be Russian troops, took over most of the base.
Maxim Shipenkov EPA/Landov

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 3:54 pm

(This post was updated at 4:52 p.m. ET. to reflect President Obama's meeting with the interim prime minister of Ukraine.)

Conceding that "we cannot launch a military operation in Crimea, as we would expose the eastern border and Ukraine would not be protected," Ukraine's acting president has told Agence France-Presse that his nation won't use force in a bid to keep Crimea from breaking off and joining the Russian Federation.

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Shots - Health News
7:44 am
Wed March 12, 2014

You Might Pay A Lot More Than $95 For Skipping Health Insurance

The tax penalty is designed to encourage people to sign up for health insurance.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 3:08 pm

2014 is the first year most Americans will have to either have health insurance or face a tax penalty.

But most people who are aware of the penalty think it's pretty small, at least for this first year. And that could turn into an expensive mistake.

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Bill Sent on to senate
5:13 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

House Approves Legislation Creating Tax Credits For Housing In Rural Areas

Credit thefixer / Flickr.com

The Oklahoma House has approved legislation to create a tax credit for low- and moderate-income housing in rural areas.

The bill by Republican Rep. Mike Jackson of Enid was approved 75-13 Tuesday and sent to the state Senate for consideration.

The bill creates a new tax credit program similar to the federal low-income housing tax credit. The amount of state tax credits would equal the amount of federal low-income tax credits for a qualified project.

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The Two-Way
4:52 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Health Care Enrollments Up, But Still Well Short Of Goal

The HealthCare.gov website has been a source of delays and confusion for those trying to sign up for health insurance under the ACA.
Jon Elswick AP

Originally published on Tue March 11, 2014 4:46 pm

Another 940,000 people signed up for health insurance in February under the Affordable Care Act, bringing the total to 4.2 million since the troubled HealthCare.gov website was launched, the Department of Health and Human Services reports. The number is still well short of the administration's goal for March 31, when open enrollment ends.

To reach 6 million sign ups under the ACA, as the White House had hoped for, another 1.8 million people would need to enroll by the end of the month.

As The Associated Press reports:

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Arts & Entertainment
4:21 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

‘I’m Really Clara’: Musical Explores The ‘Flipside’ Of Oklahoma’s Patti Page

Credit Provided / Flipside: The Patti Page Story

Interview with UCO Director of Musical Theater Greg White

From the end of World War II to the mid-1950s – before the “Golden Age” of rock ‘n’ roll – classic pop ballads and carefully crafted novelty songs dominated the radio airwaves. 

Among the best-known of these clear-throated singers with a penchant for the dramatic was Oklahoma-born Clara Ann Fowler, who was billed as “The Singin’ Rage, Miss Patti Page.”

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Workers' Compensation
12:57 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Oklahoma Court Upholds CompSource Mutualization

Credit Oklahoma Supreme Court

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has upheld a plan to convert the state workers' compensation insurance agency into a mutual company.

The state's highest court handed down a decision Tuesday that affirms legislation adopted last year to convert CompSource Oklahoma into the CompSource Mutual Insurance Co. The new company would be organized under state law, but independent of the state. The change goes into effect on Jan. 1.

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State Capitol
11:42 am
Tue March 11, 2014

Senate Approves Lower Age Limit For Oklahoma State Troopers

Oklahoma Highway Patrol cadets lining up during academy training.
Credit Oklahoma Highway Patrol

A state senator from Coalgate hopes to make it easier to become an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper.

At the request of the agency, Republican state Sen. Josh Brecheen wrote a bill that would lower the age limit from 23 to 21 and reduce the educational requirements needed to become a trooper.

The bill passed the Senate on Tuesday on a 43-2 vote and now heads to the House for consideration.

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Assignment: Radio
10:17 am
Tue March 11, 2014

Painting to Your Own Beat

An abstract artist from Bethany, Oklahoma paints to her own beat — lately Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto in B flat minor. Radio reporter, Molly Evans, spoke with MtnWoman Silver about the music and emotions that inspire her unique artistic process and her current exhibition titled, “Sounds of Self.”  

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