MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

December 18, 2012

Response deadline set in Oklahoma Youth Expo suit

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – An Oklahoma County judge gave attorneys for the state more time Tuesday to respond to a lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of a $2 million appropriation of state tax dollars to a private, nonprofit livestock show.

District Judge Lisa Davis ordered the state to respond by Dec. 28 to the lawsuit filed by Republican Reps. Mike Reynolds of Oklahoma City and Mike Ritze of Broken Arrow.

In the suit, Reynolds and Ritze claim appropriating state tax dollars to the Oklahoma Youth Expo livestock show is an inappropriate use of taxpayer money and is unconstitutional.

Davis also denied the lawmakers’ motion to order judgments against Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reese, State Treasurer Ken Miller and other officials named in the suit because some of their responses were filed about a week late. Attorneys for the state have said that happened “through inadvertence and an honest mistake.”

Attorney James Woodruff, assistant general counsel for the Agriculture Department, argued against the lawmakers’ motion and said whether the Youth Expo appropriation is unconstitutional will require the court to collect evidence and testimony.

Assistant Attorney General Kevin McClure questioned whether some state officials were properly served with the lawsuit and said a judgment in the lawmakers’ favor was inappropriate.

“It’s a frowned-upon issue whenever the state is involved,” McClure said.

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