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February 26, 2014

Attorney: AG abused rewrite discretion

OKLAHOMA CITY — The attorney general’s office abused its discretion by rewriting a ballot title for a petition to place storm shelters in Oklahoma public schools, a lawyer for the initiative’s supporters told the state Supreme Court.

The 200-word ballot title condenses the full initiative petition, State Question 767. When it was submitted, it focused on what supporters say was the purpose of the proposal, to finance and build school storm shelters. Attorney General Scott Pruitt made significant changes, going into great detail on the financial aspects of the $500 million bond.

“He did not need to re-write it,” attorney David Slane said. “Ours was legally correct. We do not agree with the attorney general’s rewrite.”

He said the new version overemphasizes the funding method and the state’s franchise tax on Oklahoma businesses and underemphasizes the purpose. He also said Pruitt’s changes led to not getting enough signatures for the measure to go before voters.

But Senior Assistant Attorney General Neal Leader said his office was justified in rewriting the ballot title to fully explain its impact and effect, as required by state law.

— AP

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