Politics and Government

Oklahoma Tornado Project
9:39 am
Mon July 21, 2014

Auditing The Storm: Hazard Funds Don’t Always Go To Damaged Areas

An overturned car after the May 20, 2013 tornado in Moore.
Oklahoma Watch

As a massive tornado bore down on Moore on the afternoon of May 20, 2013, residents scrambled to find shelter.

Some retreated to safe rooms at home or in buildings. Many hid in closets, bathrooms or hallways.

Meanwhile, in Stillwater, people were also on alert because a tornado watch had been issued that day. But the city received only a light rain and no wind damage, according to the National Weather Service.

The destruction and deaths caused by the Moore tornado led many people in the city to believe that a residential storm shelter was essential.

But after the May 20 tornado, when the federal government began approving cash aid for projects like shelters to prevent the future loss of life and property, Moore was shut out of the program, according to data analyzed by Oklahoma Watch in a joint project with KGOU Radio/The Oklahoma Tornado Project.

Stillwater, on the other hand, has so far gotten the largest share of federal “hazard mitigation” funds released under the presidential disaster declaration, records show. Stillwater will spend about $1.9 million, most of it federal money, to help pay for more than 700 safe rooms in residents’ homes. The same program will allow Oklahoma State University there to spend $73,000 to install a lightning detection and warning system, needed partly for sporting events.

Moore has not been left out in the cold.

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Oklahoma Tornado Project
9:37 am
Mon July 21, 2014

Auditing the Storm: Hazard Mitigant Projects

Around the Nation
4:27 am
Mon July 21, 2014

Legal Battle Looms Over Florida Congressional Districts

Florida's state capitol. A redistricting plan crafted by the Republican-controlled Legislature in Tallahassee was partially thrown out by a state judge.
iStockPhoto

Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 2:18 pm

With the midterm election a little more than three months away, a legal battle in Florida has cast uncertainty over the state's upcoming congressional races.

A state judge ruled this month that maps for two of Florida's 27 congressional districts violated the state constitution. He ordered the Legislature to redraw the maps.

The question now is when.

Like most states, Florida redrew the maps for its congressional districts after the 2010 census. Some states appoint special commissions to do the job, but in Florida, redistricting is done by the state Legislature.

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The Two-Way
4:27 am
Mon July 21, 2014

Rubio: Small Government Can Help Fix Economic Inequality

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, shown here at an event in Washington last month, spoke with NPR's Morning Edition about the country's economic challenges.
Molly Riley AP

Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 8:07 am

Sen. Marco Rubio, a potential 2016 GOP presidential contender, is concerned about issues of access to affordable education, availability of job training and prospects for economic mobility. While shunning the "income inequality" language of the left, he insists that those problems need to be viewed through the lens of limited government.

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Politics
4:33 pm
Sun July 20, 2014

Tax Cuts Fallout Put Kansas Governor On Defense

Kansas is now in a budget shortfall after a wave of dramatic tax cuts championed by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback. In response, more than 100 former GOP office holders in the state have endorsed Paul Davis, Brownback's opponent in the gubernatorial race this fall. NPR's Kelly McEvers talks with Steve Kraske of KCUR and the Kansas City Star.

Politics
11:08 am
Sun July 20, 2014

Kicking The Can Down The Road: A Habit That's Hard To Kick

President Obama speaks in front of the Interstate 495 bridge near Wilmington, Del., on Thursday. Obama said he supports the temporary highway bill passed by the House last week — but he doesn't like it.
Patrick Semansky AP

Originally published on Sun July 20, 2014 12:55 pm

The Senate is expected to vote on a temporary transportation spending bill later this week — with an emphasis on the word temporary.

The bill would keep highway funding flowing through May of next year, and avert a looming infrastructure crisis. Without congressional action, the highway trust fund would run out of cash in August.

The short-term fix follows a familiar pattern. It goes something like this:

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Politics and Government
7:36 am
Sun July 20, 2014

Office of Juvenile Affairs Cuts Funds to Community Intervention Centetrs

Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs
Credit Office of Juvenile Affairs

Community intervention centers were the hot topic during the Friday meeting of Office of Juvenile Affairs Board of Directors. A meeting was able to be held Friday, unlike in June which failed due to a lack of a quorum. Suspicions had run high that the lack of a quorum was a tactical move to keep the ample audience from voicing concern at the budget cut for community intervention centers (CICs).

Board member Richard Rice, the missing board member who audience and other board members spent an hour waiting on for last month's meeting, publicly apologized Friday saying he "simply could not get out of the courtroom."

The number of those in attendance at this meeting was drastically different than those audience members from last month's meeting, but, nonetheless, several public comments were made about the cut of appropriations to CICs. A cut of 1.75 percent was cut from Youth Services, and an additional estimate of $610,000 was cut specifically from CIC budgets.

OJA Executive Director Keith Wilson said that the cuts came after a "necessary" cost-benefit analysis. Since then, he has been in talks with the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate, impressing upon them the dire budget situation. Wilson said that "the situation that the Legislature and the governor have put us in is just critical" and "something that the Legislature should look at in the upcoming year."

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The Two-Way
1:50 pm
Sat July 19, 2014

Kremlin Blacklists 13 Americans In Tit-For-Tat Over U.S. Sanctions

Retiring Virginia Reps. Jim Moran (center) and Frank Wolf talk as congressmen leave the House of Representatives in April. Moran's name appears on on a Russian visa blacklist issued on Saturday.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Sat July 19, 2014 5:36 pm

Updated at 2:55 p.m. ET.

Moscow has issued a quid pro quo for sanctions imposed on it by Washington, banning a U.S. congressman and 12 other Americans from entering Russia.

NPR's Hansi Lo Wang reports that the Foreign Ministry in Moscow says the new blacklist is in response to U.S. visa restrictions on Russian citizens in the wake of Moscow's annexation of Crimea and its continuing support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

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Politics and Government
8:46 am
Sat July 19, 2014

ABLE Commission Discusses Vapor Regulation Prohibiting Sales To Minors

An e-cigarette.
Credit Kubice / Wikimedia Commons

Members of the Alcoholic Beverage Law Enforcement Commission hear a presentation Friday on the agency’s preparation for enforcing a new law governing vapor products.

SB1602 passed by the legislature and signed into law places the products under the Youth Access to Tobacco Act for which ABLE is the lead law enforcement agency.

Under the new law, which takes effect November 1, it will be illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to purchase or possess vapor products, regardless of whether the product contains nicotine, explained ABLE Captain Maureen Shanta.

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Politics
7:00 am
Sat July 19, 2014

Biden: Loved By The Left, But With Limits

Vice President Biden addresses Democratic activists Thursday at Netroots Nation in Detroit.
Carlos Osorio AP

Originally published on Sat July 19, 2014 10:45 am

The annual progressive gathering known as Netroots Nation wraps up its annual conference in Detroit this weekend.

In the hallways and the meeting rooms, much of the buzz was about the presidential race in 2016 — and who might run on the Democratic side.

But Vice President Joe Biden, who gave the keynote address on opening day, didn't factor much into that speculation, despite being President Obama's wingman on everything from the stimulus package to the Affordable Care Act.

Biden was even ahead of the administration's position on same-sex marriage.

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