Governor Mary Fallin today signed into law Senate Bill 1882. The legislation limits the legal liability of school districts that open indoor or outdoor facilities on a voluntary basis to community groups or individuals for physical activity.
Fallin asked the legislation to be passed in her State of the State Address as part of her agenda to encourage physical fitness and increase health indicators across the state of Oklahoma.
"Becoming a healthier state will not only save lives, it will save hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars and improve our economy," Fallin said. "That's why we're doing everything we can to help encourage our citizens to exercise and stay fit."
"Unfortunately, many districts have been reluctant to open up school property to their local communities after hours due to concerns about potential lawsuits. This legislation clarifies liability laws and concerns about legal risks, making it easier for schools to voluntarily open up their playgrounds, tracks, basketball courts and other facilities. That in turn will provide communities with another safe place for residents to play sports, workout and get healthy."
"Furthermore, this legislation will also assist schools who do choose to open up their facilities to the public in becoming Certified Healthy Schools, as well as provide an increased opportunity to receive funding through the Certified Healthy School Rewards program. I applaud the Legislature for sending this measure to my desk as well as the Fit Kids Coalition and the American Heart Association for their work on this issue. My thanks go out in advance to those schools that choose to share their facilities with their local communities."
SB 1882 was authored by Senator Greg Treat and Representative Fred Jordan.
Officials with the American Heart Association and the Fit Kids Coalition supported the measure and praised the governor for signing the bill into law.
"Oklahomans often face real barriers when making the choice to move more. With SB 1882 being signed into law by Governor Mary Fallin, we have taken a step in the right direction to make the healthy choice an easier choice," said Amber England, director of Oklahoma Fit Kids Coalition.
"Shared use agreements will pave the way for communities to connect with schools and provide opportunities for families to become healthy together. These community-driven decisions will help shape a healthier future in Oklahoma for generations to come. We applaud Governor Fallin's leadership in giving communities the tools they need to transform their communities into places that value a culture of health and wellness."
Tony Maranto, chairman of the Central Oklahoma American Heart Association, said, "With the signing of Senate Bill 1882, Oklahoma takes a monumental step towards creating healthier communities and encouraging our citizens to be physically active. With so many schools being in the heart of our neighborhoods it is a natural solution to provide open access to these facilities. This is a great opportunity to encourage increased physical activity among the citizens of Oklahoma and reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke."