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Republican members of the Senate General Government Committee killed a measure Monday that would have allowed added fire protection for Oklahomans who live in rural sections of incorporated municipalities.
“There are thousands of Oklahomans who live within the city limits of Tulsa, Oklahoma City and other municipalities in areas that aren’t served by city water lines and can face dire consequences when fire breaks out in their home. With their votes today the Republican members of the General Government Committee looked at those people in the eye and said ‘burn, baby, burn,’” said Senator Tom Adelson, D-Tulsa.
Senate Bill 941, authored by Senator Angela Monson, would have allowed creation of the same kind of fire districts within municipalities that are now allowed in unincorporated rural areas of the state, Adelson said. Proponents of the bill, including members of the Tulsa Fire Department, said creation of this new type of fire district offers the best chance for improved fire protection in rural areas within municipal boundaries.
Companion legislation, Senate Joint Resolution 30, empowered communities to fund a fire department for their district through a local vote of the people.
Adelson blamed Republican Senators Brian Crain, Owen Laughlin, Mike Johnson, Jim Reynolds and Todd Lamb for defeat of the proposal. All five voted against SJR 30 and, without funding, fire districts won’t be able to operate.
“I’m surprised that these liberal Republicans voted in favor of big state government, against local control and ultimately, against the public safety,” Adelson said.
He focused much of his criticism on Crain, R-Tulsa. Crain voted for SB 941, which was supported by representatives of the Tulsa Fire Department in attendance at the meeting, but turned around and voted against SJR 30 which would have allowed a vote on a way to fund creation of the fire districts.
“It won’t matter to families who have to stand by helplessly and watch their homes burn that Senator Crain was for half of the proposal. You don't provide rifles to the cavalry then deny them ammunition,” Adelson said.