Oklahoma Supreme Court hears arguments in school storm shelter case

David Slane, who represents Take Shelter Oklahoma and Kristi Conatzer, argued that Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s office went beyond its scope to rewrite the ballot title, emphasizing how it would be funded over its purpose of putting storm shelters in public schools.
by Matt Dinger Published: February 26, 2014
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An attorney argued before the Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday that the language a grassroots campaign chose for a ballot title to put storm shelters in public schools was rewritten in a manner that emphasized funding and ignored key components of the statewide bond issue.

“Why did he have to rewrite it if it was factually correct the first time?” asked attorney David Slane, who represents Take Shelter Oklahoma and Kristi Conatzer.

The ballot title, which is limited to 200 words, is the language that voters would see on the ballot in the voting booth. Slane argued that Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s office went beyond its scope to rewrite the ballot title, emphasizing how it would be funded over its purpose.

The state’s franchise tax is mentioned four times in the rewritten title. Slane stressed that the citizens drafted the language and that he only became involved when issues regarding the original language arose.

“Ours was factually correct,” Slane said.

“That’s why we think he was biased in writing this,” he said.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Neal Leader argued that the purpose of the rewritten measure is to fully explain the effect of the proposition.

“Their goal is to build shelters in schools, but what they’re presenting is a financial transaction,” Leader said.

“We leave lots of ballot titles alone even when we think it could be written better.”

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by Matt Dinger
Court Reporter
Matt Dinger was born and raised in Oklahoma City. He has worked in OPUBCO's News and Information Center since 2006, and has been assigned to the breaking news desk since its formation in fall 2008. He specializes in crime and police reporting.
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