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Battle Over School Storm Shelter Initiative Enters Hearing At OK Supreme Court

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After a Monday scheduling hearing at Oklahoma's highest court, supporters said they fear that Attorney General Scott Pruitt will challenge the signatures needed to put the issue before voters. After a Monday scheduling hearing at Oklahoma's highest court, supporters said they fear that Attorney General Scott Pruitt will challenge the signatures needed to put the issue before voters.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

A battle continues to brew at the Oklahoma Supreme Court over a ballot initiative to build storm shelters in every Oklahoma school.

After a Monday scheduling hearing at Oklahoma's highest court, supporters said they fear that Attorney General Scott Pruitt will challenge the signatures needed to put the issue before voters. Volunteers have until mid-December to secure 155,000 petition signatures. They say the legal fight against the attorney general is not helping.

"[The attorney general is] hoping we don't get enough signatures so this never has to be heard, and winning by default is bad news," Take Shelter Oklahoma attorney David Slane said.

Kristi Conatzer, who lost a child in Plaza Towers, says the children of Oklahoma can't not wait any longer.

"It's a misuse of taxpayers' dollars to have to even argue this," Conatzer said. "There should not be a fight … not when it comes to children's safety.

The legal fight is over wording that voters would see on a potential ballot. Take Shelter Oklahoma says the current wording from the attorney general is political and focuses more on a tax increase than the issue itself. On October 17, lawyers challenged the attorney general's wording on a legal technicality, claiming the attorney general failed to meet his deadline to alter the initiative.

As the fight between lawyers continues, volunteers say they are more determined to get even more signatures.

"We'll move fast, and we'll hope [the state] will too," said Slane.

10/28/2013 Related Story: Dates Set In Oklahoma Shelter Group's Ballot Fight

Volunteers had not provided the latest count on signatures as of late Monday. If supporters fall short on signatures, a supreme court hearing will be unnecessary and volunteers will need to start from square one. A lawyer from Pruitt's office refused to answer questions from News 9 Monday.

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