Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commentary: Fourth Reading: Words of Warning from Oklahoma State Rep. Joe Dorman Lost in the Winds

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commentary: Fourth Reading: Words of Warning from Oklahoma State Rep. Joe Dorman Lost in the Winds

Article excerpt

For three years, state Rep. Joe Dorman has banged his head against the wall.

Dorman, a likeable, easygoing Democrat from Rush Springs, has repeatedly tried to pass legislation that would better protect Oklahomans during tornado season.

Ideas such as requiring that mobile homes be tied down, stronger building codes, safety plans and safe rooms in public schools have all been analyzed, written down and filed.

They've never made it out of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

Special-interest groups and industry lobbyists have come out of the woodwork to kill anything they consider too costly or unbusinesslike.

Despite Dorman's best efforts, more people have died.

This week, Dorman - frustrated because he watched yet another tornado destroy lives - again called for action. He asked the Legislature's Republican leadership to consider a $500 million statewide bond issue to fund construction of safe rooms in public schools. A handful of people applauded, but others complained that Dorman has exploited the tragic deaths of several children for his own gain.

Dorman's critics are wrong.

For years, Dorman has sought to write policies that would make Oklahomans safer when facing a tornado. He's conducted interim studies, met with experts and twisted the arms of legislative leaders, trying to make state law better reflect Oklahoma's hazardous environment.

Yes, he's failed. Although he has drawn more attention to the need of better infrastructure for schools and better laws to combat twisters, Dorman can't point to a strong law as proof that he succeeded.

Yet he keeps trying.

While Oklahomans grieve and struggle to understand the difficult nature of life in the Great Plains, we have bypassed opportunity after opportunity to better protect ourselves and our children from the prairie's version of a hurricane. …

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