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Oklahoma Supreme Court gives backer of school tornado shelter proposal more time to collect signatures

Backers of a measure to place tornado shelters in Oklahoma schools will get an additional 90 days to collect signatures to put their plan on a statewide ballot, the state Supreme Court has ruled.
by Rick Green Modified: April 1, 2014 at 9:33 pm •  Published: April 2, 2014

Backers of a plan to place storm shelters in Oklahoma public schools have an additional 90 days to collect signatures to get the proposal on a statewide ballot, the state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

The ruling came in a lawsuit by plan supporters who sought to change the way it would be described on the ballot. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt wrote the final description, or ballot title, and the Supreme Court ruling left that wording intact.

David Slane, an attorney for those supporters, called the ruling a “mixed bag.” The lawsuit contends the wording unduly emphasizes the mechanism for funding the plan, which calls for a $500 million state bond measure, with interest on the bonds paid for through a state franchise tax levied on businesses.

While pleased the court allowed more time to collect signatures, Slane said he “respectfully disagreed” with the court’s decision to uphold the ballot title.

“We do believe the ballot language used by the attorney general is not fair,” Slane said. “We think it’s inaccurate and we think it’s biased.”

Slane said he called to see if the attorney general would agree on compromise wording, but hasn’t heard back.

“Throughout the process, my office has acted as a neutral legal adviser and the court’s ruling upholds the correctness, accuracy and impartiality of the ballot title my office proposed,” Pruitt said.

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by Rick Green
Capitol Bureau Chief
Rick Green is the Capitol Bureau Chief of The Oklahoman. A graduate of Humboldt State University in Arcata, Calif., he worked as news editor for The Associated Press in Oklahoma City before joining The Oklahoman.
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