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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Tax cuts for individual & corporate taxes
6:17 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Oklahoma House Votes For Reduction To Income Tax

Credit LendingMemo / Flickr.com

A plan to cut both Oklahoma's corporate and individual income tax rates has cleared the Oklahoma House over the objections of Democrats who contend the resulting loss of revenue will decimate critical state services like education, public safety and health care.

The House voted 57-34 Thursday for the bill that includes triggers for both cuts that would require certain revenue collections to grow by enough to offset the lost revenue to the state. Bartlesville Republican Rep. Earl Sears described it as a "modest income tax reduction."

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Bridge Back By Easter
4:16 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

A Tale Of Two Cities: Lexington And Purcell

Credit J Stephen Conn / Flickr.com

Purcell and Lexington are only about 4,000 feet apart as the crow flies, but much farther as the car drives.

Travel between the communities now requires a 45-minute trip through the Oklahoma City suburbs after an emergency closure on Jan. 31 of the James C. Nance Memorial Bridge between the communities.

The cities have partnered with the Department of Transportation to provide a shuttle, but residents say not enough is being done.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
3:17 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Oklahoma Moves Up the Ranks By Adding More Wind Energy To Its Electricity Mix

Credit Gabriel Pollard / Flickr Creative Commons

Wind energy accounted for 14.8 percent of the electricity generated in Oklahoma in 2013, an American Wind Energy analysis of data from the U.S. Energy Information Agency show.

Oklahoma now ranks No. 7 nationally, a step up from the No. 9 ranking the state earned in 2012 when wind power comprised 10.5 percent of the state’s energy mix, according to the wind industry trade group.

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Oklahoma Watch
2:02 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Limited Impact Expected In Oklahoma From Obama's Education Proposal

Credit Terrapin Flyer / Flickr Creative Commons

President Obama called for a 2 percent increase in federal education funding while unveiling his budget proposal Tuesday, but little benefit is expected in Oklahoma.

During his presentation, Obama requested $68.6 billion in discretionary education funding. The proposal included no changes in current Title 1 spending, which funds programs for students from low-income families, or special education. Both programs combined take up 39 percent of proposed federal education funding.

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State Capitol
1:15 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Ralph Ellison Portrait Unveiled Thursday

The portrait of Ralph Ellison unveiled Thursday is part of a yearlong celebration of the author's 100th birthday. He died in 1994.
Credit State Sen. David Holt (R-Oklahoma City) / Facebook

One of the state's most famous writers is the latest Oklahoman to be honored with a portrait at the state Capitol.

The author of Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison grew up in the Deep Deuce area of Oklahoma City. State Sen. David Holt (R-Oklahoma City) was among those leading the effort to pay tribute to Ellison. Holt says the new painting honors a man who was much more than a writer.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
12:27 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Lawmakers Join Landowners Who Think Getting A Mining Permit Is Too Easy

Johnston County Landowner Clyde Runyon just outside a limestone mining operation near Mill Creek, Okla.
Credit Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Limestone and sand miners are getting a lot of attention lately. The amount of groundwater they can displace from the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer was recently capped, and the state House could authorize a new tax on the industry.

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World Views
11:18 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Lost (And Found) In Translation: Three Authors Find Their Place Through Literature

Credit Roxanne Ready / Flickr Creative Commons

Growing up, author Andrew Lam struggled to make sense of his Vietnamese identity at home and his American identity at school.  

“Writing and reading was a way to begin to understand how I could marry this night and day dichotomy,” Lam says. “It’s possible to use the written language to express one’s self and make two polar worlds bridge and connect.”

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OneSix8
9:58 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Entertaining The Hours Of Your Week With OU’s Civil War Teach-In And A Tornado Project Forum

"A War for the Union 1862-A Cavalry Charge" engraving by Winslow Homer
Credit Winslow Homer / Brooklyn Museum

The University of Oklahoma presents a “Teach-In On The Civil War” Monday, March 10. Highly reputable academics from across the country come to Norman for the all-day event that features lectures and panel discussions about the era.

OU President David Boren delivers a few words before the opening lecture from Clemson University historian Vernon Burton at 9:30 a.m. in OU’s Catlett Music Center.

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Chesapeake
8:48 am
Thu March 6, 2014

OKC's Cheseapeake Energy Accused Of Collusion

Credit Chesapeake Energy

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says he's filed criminal charges Chesapeake Energy and Encana Corporation for colluding to avoid bidding against each other for Michigan oil and gas leases.

Schuette said Wednesday that the antitrust violations happened in 2010, when Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake and Calgary, Alberta-based Encana bought natural gas leases in Michigan.

He says collusion is suspected of depressing the per-acre cost of leases from $1,510 in May 2010 to under $40 in October 2010.

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The Two-Way
6:14 am
Thu March 6, 2014

'We Are Ready To Protect Our Country,' Ukrainian Leader Says

Demonstrators carried a Russian flag during a rally this week in the western Crimean city of Yevpatoria.
Genya Savilov AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 6, 2014 12:25 pm

We're updating this post as the day continues.

While conceding that his nation can't come close to the military power of Russia, the interim prime minister of Ukraine said Thursday that "we are ready to protect our country" if Russia does not stop its "military aggression" in Crimea.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk told reporters in Brussels, Belgium, that the presence of Russian forces in that autonomous region of his nation "is unacceptable in the 21st century."

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