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Oklahoma School Shelter Advocates Launch New, Slightly Different Petition

Kate Carlton Greer
The Oklahoma Tornado Project
Civil rights icon the Rev. Jesse Jackson told parents and storm shelter supporters Wednesday protecting students from destructive tornados is "a moral obligation."

For the past nine months, school shelter supporters have fought to get a $500 million dollar bond issue to fund safe room construction on a statewide ballot. Attorney General Scott Pruitt revised the original proposal, adding what Take Shelter Oklahoma called “biased” and “unfair” language.

But the advocacy group announced a new version Wednesday.

Take Shelter Oklahoma’s attorney David Slane stood in front of Plaza Towers Elementary School with The Rev. Jesse Jackson and parents who lost children at the school last May.

“Joplin, Missouri learned after its devastating tornado that schools need storm shelters, and they have built them," Jackson said. " I am here today asking the people of the state of Oklahoma to do the same by signing the petition these parents are circulating so voters can decide on funding school storm shelters.  Our character is determined by how we treat the most vulnerable.  We must pass the character test.” 

Jackson said even though this storm season has been quiet, it’s important for the state to be ready for the future.

“Surely as we are here today, strong winds will come again,” Jackson says. “Would it not be a shame if we anticipate the tornadoes coming and did not make preparation for its coming?”

Mikki Davis, the mother of one of the students killed, Kyle Davis, says protecting students is the right thing to do.

Slane says the new version uses the state’s general revenue fund instead of the franchise tax. He expects Take Shelter to officially file the initiative petition within a week. They'll need approximately 160,000 signatures to place the measure on the November ballot.


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