Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commentary: Fourth Reading: Putting Aside Politics to Focus on Policy

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commentary: Fourth Reading: Putting Aside Politics to Focus on Policy

Article excerpt

Danni Legg moves quietly through the halls of the state Capitol.

Carrying a notebook and a stack of papers, she smiles warmly as she buttonholes members of the Legislature to talk to them about storm shelters, school construction and tornadoes - issues that she didn't pay that much attention to until last year.

But that was before May. Before the big tornadoes. Before Danni's son, Christopher, died at the Plaza Towers third-grade center.

Today, Danni Legg has become an advocate, driven by the desire to protect students from what her family experienced. She's taken up the role because today in Oklahoma tornadoes have become our latest political football. For decades Oklahomans have taken the attitude that it can't happen to me when it comes to tornadoes. We've been inconsistent in our plans, done little to improve our building codes and, most times when a twister lowered itself from the sky, we stood on the back porch and pointed to the sky.

A few years back a handful of state representatives tried to convince the rest of the Legislature that something needed to be done to better protect residents who lived in mobile home parks. One proposal would have required the parks to provide storm shelters. Another would have required mobile homes to be tied down. A watered- down version would have simply required mobile home parks to develop safety plans.

Those measures were defeated. After lobbyists for the manufactured housing association began twisting arms, the Legislature caved. That was in 2007. Since then other proposals have been offered and they've been shot down.

Last year, the storms returned. Hundreds were hurt. Children died.

But the Legislature, which could have acted before, was behind the curve. Lawmakers found $40 million to fund disaster operations but did little to protect residents from future storms. …

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