Short of signatures, storm shelter backers await Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling

Take Shelter Oklahoma did not collect enough signatures to qualify storm shelter initiative for statewide ballot
By Graham Lee Brewer Published: December 17, 2013

Backers of a statewide bond measure for school storm shelters did not have the required number of signatures to put it on the ballot by a Monday deadline to turn in petitions.

They had gathered about 120,000 signatures and needed 160,000, officials of the organization supporting the effort said.

Leaders of the group, Take Shelter Oklahoma, are hoping they may receive a new 90-day period for collecting signatures on Wednesday when the Oklahoma Supreme Court considers the wording of the proposed ballot measure.

The initiative petition calls for the state to issue up to $500 million in bonds for the construction of Oklahoma school storm shelters. Franchise tax revenues would be used to repay the bonds, and the Legislature could appropriate additional money to pay off bonds if franchise tax revenues were insufficient.

Attorney General Scott Pruitt's office rewrote the proposed ballot language, emphasizing that franchise tax revenues currently flow into the general fund and that approval of the measure would divert that money from the general fund, which is the primary fund used to finance state government.

Take Shelter Oklahoma objects to this wording, and if the court throws out the language, it may give the organization another 90 days to collect signatures, said Mark Nestlen, a spokesman for the group.

If the court upholds the current language, Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, has pledged to introduce a House joint resolution to put the issue before voters.

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