Rep. Dorman Petitions for Storm Shelters in Oklahoma Schools - KSWO, Lawton, OK- Wichita Falls, TX: News, Weather, Sports. ABC, 24/7, Telemundo -

Rep. Dorman Petitions for Storm Shelters in Oklahoma Schools

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OKLAHOMA_ A proposal to provide funding for storm shelters in every public school in the state could soon be seen on ballots in Oklahoma.

Rush Springs Democrat Joe Dorman said the need was apparent after this spring's deadly tornadoes. He's part of a group of lawmakers and attorneys who are working on the petition's language now. They hope to begin collecting signatures as early as next month.

In the past legislative session, there was a push for an initiative to put storm shelters in all Oklahoma Public Schools, but Dorman said flaws in the bill's language held it up.

So, they decided to go around the legislative process, and take it straight to the people. But to get there, they need 160,000 signatures to put the bond proposal on the ballot.

"I really don't think there will be much of a problem getting that many signatures. I think if we circulate these petitions at Friday night football games, around different places in the state, at the Oklahoma State Fair, OU, OSU, and Tulsa football games. I really think we'll get the signatures pretty quick," said Dorman.

They will have 90 days to do that. If they get enough, then the bond proposal will be written, and put on the ballot. However, instead of imposing a new tax, the state will reroute the funds from the state's franchise tax to pay off the 500 million dollar bond for the shelters.

Superintendent of Lawton Public Schools Tom Deighan said anytime they can do anything to make students safer they are 100 percent behind it.

"I especially applaud Representative Dorman for taking the time to understand school finance, and to investigate alternative sources. It's an expensive project but nobody, nobody can argue with the need for it," said Deighan.  

"We don't know when our time is coming, but this is like an insurance policy. It's one of those things you put money into it, you hope you never have to use it, but you're sure glad you have it when it's there."

The program will be run by the Office of Emergency Management. Dorman said if schools follow FEMA standards when they build their shelters, then they can get a 3 to 1 match meaning the $500 million could be leveraged into $2 billion for all the schools in the state.

Dorman said if there's any leftover money from the franchise tax, they want to create an individual shelter program to allow apartment complexes, mobile home parks, and even individual homeowners to qualify for a rebate program.

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