MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

July 18, 2013

Special session proposal gains support


Associated Press

— OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman said Wednesday he supports the idea of a special session to resurrect a lawsuit reform bill struck down by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, and Gov. Mary Fallin said she’s discussing the idea with legislative leaders.

Bingman, R-Sapulpa, said he thinks legislators might have to pass as many as two dozen bills to make the needed changes to the lawsuit reform bill, but that he’d like to keep the special session to one week and not address any other topics.

A special session would cost nearly $30,000 per day, according to legislative staff.

“We’ve worked for many years to be pro-business, pro-jobs in Oklahoma, and to have a court system that struck down the lawsuit reform ... it creates much uncertainty in the business community and we need to deal with that as soon as possible,” Bingman said.

House Speaker T.W. Shannon said, through a spokesman, that he would defer to the governor on whether to return for a special session.

“This legislature will address the issues that are ahead of us, whether it be in a special session or during regular session,” said Shannon spokesman Joe Griffin. “It is up to the governor if we have a special session, and if she decides that’s the best route, then we will certainly support her in that decision.”

The high court’s 7-2 decision in June was that the bill, known as the Comprehensive Lawsuit Reform Act of 2009, violated the single-subject rule in the Oklahoma Constitution and amounted to unconstitutional logrolling, the passing of legislation that contains multiple subjects.