Battle over storm shelters in schools heads to the Oklahoma Supreme Court
OKLAHOMA CITY – An effort to put storm shelters in Oklahoma classrooms is now before the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
Supporters who wanted Oklahoma voters to decide the matter are now battling with the attorney general over the wording of that measure.
An hour and a half is all the time both sides had to speak in front of the full court.
Now, supporters and critics of State Question 767 must wait until the justices hand down their decision.
‘Take Shelter Oklahoma’ filed a lawsuit against Attorney General Scott Pruitt for the new wording that emphasizes how much the measure will cost.
They say it downplays the main goal, which is to give public schools the resources they need for storm shelters.
On Tuesday, all nine Supreme Court justices took a microscope to the people’s petition process for state questions.
David Slane, the attorney for ‘Take Shelter Oklahoma,’ says the justices wanted him to prove Pruitt’s rewrite was clearly breaking the law.
“I think the justices were very fair,” says Slane. “I think they asked the right questions.”
Before Pruitt’s rewrite, the group had already begun collecting signatures based on their version of the initiative.
Justice Yvonne Kauger says the AG’s office has changed the wording so much the people may not know what they’ve signed now.
Neal Leader, the assistant attorney general, argued their case.
He said they changed the wording to focus on the franchise tax and less on the shelters because they think how the initiative will be funded is the most important thing for voters to know.
Mikki Davis, who lost a child at Plaza Towers Elementary, never believed this argument would go so far but says regardless of the court’s decision, she hopes to see the initiative on the ballot in November.
“I’m a believer and they’re going to make the right decision,” says Davis. “If people would have taken the initiative to do something about this a long time ago, my baby would be here with me today.”
‘Take Shelter Oklahoma’ also argues Pruitt filed his rewrite two days after the deadline.
The assistant attorney general argued that was because the group did not give a copy to the AG’s office like they are supposed to, giving them a late start on reviewing it.
Leader declined to comment after court recessed on Tuesday morning.
Legal advisers expect a ruling in mid-March.