, Muskogee, OK

October 18, 2013

State shelter group challenges ballot title change

Associated Press

— OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Supporters of a plan to issue $500 million in bonds to help Oklahoma school districts pay for safe-room shelters filed a legal challenge Thursday against Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s rewrite of the measure’s ballot title.

The challenge filed by Take Shelter Oklahoma and Kristi Conatzer, the mother of one of seven children who were killed when a tornado struck a school in Moore in May, says the initiative petition’s original ballot title is legally correct and asks the Oklahoma Supreme Court to reinstate it.

A state lawmaker who is spearheading the effort, Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, said in a statement that Pruitt’s rewritten ballot title is an attempt “to politicize the issue of protecting school children.”

“His rewrite of the ballot title does not adequately represent the meaning and purpose of the constitutional amendment,” Dorman said. “His rewrite is a political commentary on the use of the revenue source instead of an explanation of the ballot measure, something prohibited by state law.”

Conatzer, whose daughter Emily was among the children killed at Plaza Tower Elementary School when a tornado struck Moore on May 20, accused Pruitt of attempting to stop Oklahomans from protecting their children.

“My child died because her school did not have adequate protection for the children,” Conatzer said. “I never want to see another family suffer like mine did because of politicians who say one thing but don’t follow through on promises.”

A spokesman for Pruitt’s office, Aaron Cooper, said in a statement that the rewritten ballot title fulfills the attorney general’s statutory duty.