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Two Legislators debate over shelters

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP)  Legislative leaders say they won't demand that Oklahoma's public schools build storm shelters to protect their students, saying such decisions should be left to local officials.

Two competing tornado shelter plans are being floated as Oklahoma lawmakers prepare to reconvene Monday for the 2014 legislative session. A legislator suggests a $500 million state bond package that local school districts could use to build the shelters, while Gov. Mary Fallin wants to let districts raise the money locally with expanded borrowing authority.

Fallin's office said Thursday that language outlining her plan had been placed in a House resolution that, if approved by the Legislature and attorney general, would go before voters in November.

The issue emerged after seven children died inside a Moore elementary school when a tornado tore through the Oklahoma City suburb in May. Despite the heightened focus on school safety, Fallin and House and Senate leaders say school construction is typically a function of school boards.

"I believe the state should stay out of telling local school districts to build shelters," Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, said at an Associated Press pre-session forum at the Capitol on Wednesday.

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