MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

August 13, 2013

Fallin’s special session order includes typo


Associated Press

— OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Gov. Mary Fallin on Tuesday reissued a call for a special legislative session to address changes in Oklahoma’s civil justice system after she made reference to a part of the state constitution that doesn’t exist.

Fallin issued an amended executive order on Tuesday that advised the Legislature not to violate Article 5, Section 57, which requires that each bill address only one subject. The Oklahoma Supreme Court referenced that section of the Oklahoma Constitution when they overturned a 2009 civil justice bill two months ago.

But Fallin’s executive order issued on Monday urged legislators to draft bills in such a way as to ensure that “Article 5, Section 75” of the Oklahoma Constitution is not violated. There is no such section.

“It was just a typo. They wrote 75 instead of 57,” said Fallin spokesman Alex Weintz, who said the typographical error would have no effect on the upcoming special session next month. “It really is as simple as reprinting the document, having the governor sign it, and refiling it with the Secretary of State.”

Weintz said he was first notified of the error Monday evening by a member of the press.

Fallin wants the Republican-controlled Legislature to return for a special session on Sept. 3 to restore several laws overturned by the state’s highest court that were designed to cut businesses’ legal liability costs. It will be the first special legislative session since Fallin took office in 2011, and Fallin wants lawmakers to limit the session to restoring the provisions of a bill adopted by the Legislature in 2009 that was designed to reduce the number of frivolous lawsuits and medical malpractice claims filed in Oklahoma.

Democrats have complained the special session is a waste of time and money for something that could easily be addressed when the Legislature returns in February.

A special session costs nearly $30,000 per day to cover mileage and per diem for legislators and payroll for session-only staff, according to House and Senate officials.

It’s not the first time Fallin flubbed a formal reference to the constitution. When she was sworn into office as Oklahoma’s first female governor during a chilly outdoors ceremony in January 2011, Fallin misspoke while reciting her oath, promising to “offend” instead of “defend” the U.S. and state constitutions. Because Fallin also signed a written copy of the oath, there was no need for a do-over.