OK Supreme Court Set To Discuss School Safe Room Issue
OKLAHOMA – Monday afternoon, the Oklahoma Supreme Court will begin attorney conferences over a lawsuit filed against the state attorney general.
The lawsuit was filed just a week ago by several members of the group, Take Shelter Oklahoma.
They’re trying to get a $500 million bond issue to a vote of the people.
That bond money would be used to help local school districts build tornado shelters for their students.
Take Shelter Oklahoma registered their ballot title with the secretary of state, but the attorney general submitted a revised title, saying the original one did not meet the requirements of the law.
Under Oklahoma law, the attorney general has the right to review all potential state questions to make sure they comply with the law.
“They have definitely used the taxpayer dollars to sabotage our efforts,” said Kristi Conatzer.
Conatzer lost her 9 year old daughter, Emily, in the May 20th tornado that destroyed Plaza Towers Elementary in Moore.
She is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the attorney general.
“I think that the attorney general should be ashamed of himself for even politicizing this issue,” said Conatzer.
Members of Take Shelter Oklahoma have accused politics of coming into play because the funding mechanism for the $500 million in bonds would be the state franchise tax.
That’s a tax on Oklahoma businesses and one that Republicans are widely opposed to.
“If they’re against it, I wish they would simply say we don’t like this and for what reason and more importantly, offer a substitute proposal,” said State Representative, Joe Dorman, who is heading up the issue.
“We’re going to ask the supreme court to help us act quickly. I think that the attorney general is playing politics with democracy,” said David Slane, attorney for Take Shelter Oklahoma.
For now, volunteers will continue collecting the 155,000 signatures needed to get the issue to a vote of the people.
“It doesn’t seem like it’s been five months. It seems like this just happened yesterday. This is all real fresh for all of us,” said Conatzer.
The loss of her daughter still leaves Conatzer raw and gives her the determination to continue fighting for this initiative petition.
“Nothing can stop me with this,” said Conatzer.
Diane Clay, Director of Communications for the Office of the Attorney General sent us this statement.
“The attorney general commends those trying to find a way to protect Oklahoma students from severe and dangerous weather. The Attorney General’s Office is required by law to review all proposed ballot questions to ensure they explain issues in a way that voters can easily understand. Any changes made to a proposed ballot question center on this primary concern and are required by statute. Changes to a proposal should not be considered an opinion for or against a proposal. The Attorney General’s Office reviewed the proposed ballot language on storm shelters, found inconsistencies with the law, and submitted revised ballot language to the Secretary of State that complied with the law.”