House of Representatives

Lawmaker Calls for Bond to Fund Storm Shelters

5/21/2013 9:50:00 AM

Contact: State Rep. Joe Dorman
Office: (405) 557-7305

OKLAHOMA CITY – The devastation of yesterday’s tornado highlighted the lack of adequate storm shelters in our state, according to state Rep. Joe Dorman.

Dorman said he has requested that House staff draft a bill containing language for a $500 million bond issue, with $400 million of that amount going to pay for storm shelters in public schools through a program currently in the Office of Emergency Management (OEM). The remaining $100 million would fund another program which OEM has established for assisting homeowners and group home facilities with building storm shelters.

“We live in Tornado Alley and this will happen again,” said Dorman, D-Rush Springs. “We need to provide some funding to help build storm shelters, especially in schools. I would hope the idea has bipartisan appeal.”

Dorman said under House rules, leadership can still introduce new appropriations bills. These changes were put in place to avoid the use of shell bills, legislation that has no substantive language at the beginning of session, but has language added in during the final weeks of the legislature.

“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.”

A bond issue was proposed earlier this session for the same amount of money to fund upgrades for school facilities in regards to school safety involving terrorist situations.

“As the leadership was willing to allow a hearing on that bill, I would hope they give this idea an opportunity to be discussed,” said Dorman. “After the devastation we have witnessed over the past twenty-four hours and the outcry from the public for more shelters in schools, I would think some minds might change about using bonds.”