Update: Fallin’s school safety measure fails to pass Senate

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UPDATE: 4:30 p.m. 5/23 – Governor Fallin’s School Safety Measure failed to passes the Senate today.

Officials say there was a motion to reconsider the bill, but the motion also failed.

The measure originally failed in the House, but passed after Fallin urged lawmakers to reconsider the bill.

UPDATE: 9:00 p.m. – After being defeated earlier in the day, Governor Fallin’s safety measure passed the House of Representatives Thursday night.

Governor Fallin says she is thankful for the House of Representatives for reconsidering the measure.

“Because of the extraordinary efforts of Rep. Mark McBride and Rep. Jon Echols, who represent communities in Moore and Oklahoma City that were hard-hit by last year’s storms, HJR 1092 has been revived and is now heading to the Senate for final passage. These legislators have my thanks and appreciation for their work on this bill and their dedication to making Oklahoma schools safer for children and teachers.

“It is now up to the Senate to act on this bill and ensure the people of Oklahoma have a chance to vote on a plan to help put more storm shelters and safe rooms in our schools.”

The measure will now head to the Senate for consideration.

UPDATED: 4:32 p.m.

Governor Mary Fallin’s school safety measure failed to pass in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

The measure was defeated by a vote of 34-61.

Fallin released a statement Thursday afternoon in response to the bill failing to pass.

“A little more than a year ago today, seven children had their lives cut short when Plaza Towers Elementary School was ripped apart by a tornado in Moore. Those children would have been alive today if that school had a safe room.

“House Joint Resolution 1092 would have helped Oklahoma communities build storm shelters and saferooms in their schools. It would have saved lives.

“It failed today because of a politically motivated and intentionally misleading smear campaign. Critics of the bill said HJR 1092 would have raised taxes. It does not. It would have allowed local communities to increase their bonding indebtedness only if those communities voted to do so. It is a local control measure that supports decisions made by local communities.

“Some critics implied HJR 1092 was not only a tax increase, but the ‘largest tax increase in state history.’ That statement is not only false, it is intentionally misleading, mathematically impossible and patently ridiculous.

“The 2014 legislative session will now adjourn having offered the people of Oklahoma – and the children of Oklahoma – no assistance when it comes to tornado safety. Speaking as a mother as well as the governor, I am dismayed by this Legislature’s inability to act on solutions that would better protect our students and teachers.” 

State Representative Mark McBride agreed with Fallin.  McBride says he is disappointed in the House’s failure to pass the measure.

“It is extremely disappointing to me that special interest groups that did not have the priority of our children at heart killed this bill. Protecting any amount of children we could by allowing local school districts to decide what’s right for them was the main focus of HJR 1092. When it comes to protecting our children, every little bit helps and this measure would have done that over the course of the five-year period it describes. Last year, I lost seven kids in my district and a measure like this could have saved them. I supported this measure because I didn’t want to see that happen again. Unfortunately, this vote strips away enhanced security for our school-aged children.”

Despite the bill failing to pass, State Representative John Echols says he will continue to look for ways to continue to protect children.

“This was an opportunity to let our children in this state know that they are worth protecting. A yes vote supported the idea that local communities and school districts would have had the ability to make their own decisions. However, this is not the end. I will continue to look for ways, as I have done in both the public and private sector for over a year, to protect our most precious resource – our children.”

ORIGINAL STORY:

OKLAHOMA CITY – The state House of Representatives passed a bill that is said to help get storm shelters in schools, but others believe it will do no such thing.

According to a news release, Governor Mary Fallin thanked the House for its’ bipartisan support of House Joint Resolution 1092 that would allow Oklahoma school districts to pursue a one-time increase in bonding capacity to fun upgrades such as storm shelters, safe rooms and precautions against intruders.

Gov. Fallin called the bill a fiscally responsible plan that will help protect children from tornadoes and help save lives.

However, Take Shelter Oklahoma is calling the bill “the largest property tax increase in state history.”

In a release from Take Shelter Oklahoma, they say that HJR1092 does not mention the measure is a local property tax increase.

Danni Legg, a representative from Take Shelter Oklahoma, says that the plan does not guarantee that a single storm shelter is built in a single public school.

“Worse yet the plan does not guarantee that if a storm shelter is built, it will meet FEMA standards.  So bottom line is nothing in this bill will protect children’s safety.”

Legg, who lost her son at Plaza Towers elementary on May 20th, also stated that the bill limits the ability for a school district to build a shelter to five years, which she believes is not enough time.

“Everyone involved in this process knows the job of placing storm shelters in the 1,109 schools without shelters will take longer than a five-year period.”

The House voted 65-28 to pass HJR 1092, and the measure will now head to the Senate.

Legislative approval of of the bill would but it on the November 4th general election ballot for Oklahomans to consider.