Oklahoma tornadoes: Lawmaker seeks bond issue to pay for storm shelters

Most of the $500 million from the bond issue would pay for storm shelters in public schools.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Modified: May 21, 2013 at 10:03 pm •  Published: May 22, 2013

The devastation caused by tornadoes that ripped through Oklahoma this week highlights a lack of adequate storm shelters, a lawmaker said Tuesday.

Rep. Joe Dorman is calling for a $500 million bond issue to address the shortage.

Dorman, D-Rush Springs, said he is working on legislation that would provide $400 million of the bond issue to pay for storm shelters in public schools. The remaining $100 million would fund a program to assist homeowners and group home facilities with building storm shelters.

“We need to provide some funding to help build storm shelters, especially in schools,” he said.

“I would hope the idea has bipartisan appeal.”

Dorman said the debt service of a $500 million bond issue would be about $30 million annually.

State leaders could use $30 million earmarked in the upcoming fiscal year budget to make building repairs to make the bond payments, he said.

House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, has expressed a disdain for bond issues overall.

“I would think this would be an exception,” Dorman said.

A spokesman for Shannon had no comment on Dorman's proposal.

Dorman said under House rules, leadership can still introduce new money bills.

“I have put in the request for the bill to be drafted, but it will have to be proposed by either the presiding officer of a legislative body or the appropriations chair,” Dorman said.

“I will be speaking to House leaders and asking them to propose this bill or another like it this session. We have until May 31 to take action on legislative changes for this year, and a minimum of five legislative days is required to pass a new law.”



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