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Oklahoma lawmakers conclude special session

Oklahoma lawmakers completed a brief but intense special session Monday by approving 23 separate bills aimed at deterring frivolous lawsuits and making Oklahoma a more business-friendly state.
by Randy Ellis and Graham Lee Brewer Published: September 9, 2013
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Oklahoma lawmakers completed a brief but intense special session Monday by approving 23 separate bills aimed at deterring frivolous lawsuits and making Oklahoma a more business-friendly state.

Gov. Mary Fallin and business and legislative leaders all praised lawmakers for acting quickly to protect the state's economy and business community.

“My thanks go out to our lawmakers for passing these measures that will protect our businesses and our medical community from frivolous lawsuits and skyrocketing legal costs,” Fallin said in a news release. “These measures will help to keep jobs in Oklahoma and further our reputation as a business friendly state ... This is a big win for Oklahomans.”

Fred Morgan, president and chief executive officer of The State Chamber, lauded lawmakers for their efforts.

“Having a pro-business climate in Oklahoma is critical to our state's continued growth,” Morgan said in a prepared statement. “I applaud our legislative leaders and governor for recognizing this important need to reinstate lawsuit reform and working swiftly to address it in special session.

“These bills … will help reduce frivolous lawsuits in Oklahoma, allowing businesses to grow and health care costs to remain affordable.”

Single-subject rule

The measures passed during the special session were pulled from a 2009 law that the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down in June for violating the constitution's single- subject rule, which prohibits bills from focusing on more than one subject.

While some lawmakers on both sides of the aisle questioned the necessity of using taxpayer dollars to call a special session for lawsuit reform, most of the bills passed easily. The special session lasted five days at an estimated cost of $30,000 per day.

While the state Senate unanimously passed all 11 measures it took up Monday, a bill that would require the filing of certificates of merit in negligence lawsuits involving expert testimony passed the House by the bare minimum number of votes.

A certificate of merit is an opinion by an expert that a case is not frivolous.

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by Randy Ellis
Investigative Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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by Graham Lee Brewer
General Assignment/Breaking News Reporter
Graham Lee Brewer began his career as a journalist covering Oklahoma's vibrant music scene in 2006. After working as a public radio reporter for KGOU and then Oklahoma Watch, where he covered areas such as immigration and drug addiction, he went...
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