Lawmaker pulls tort reform legislation during debate

By Michael McNutt Modified: April 25, 2008 at 1:12 am •  Published: April 25, 2008
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Lawsuit reform legislation appears dead this session.

Attempts to get a lawsuit reform measure took a tumble Thursday when the House author of the bill pulled his proposal from consideration while it was being debated.

Rep. Daniel Sullivan, R-Tulsa, pulled Senate Bill 156 after Republicans joined Democrats to defeat an amendment that would have let voters decide whether to cap contingency fees at 33 percent instead of 50 percent for attorneys in personal injury cases.

SB 156 is generally the same lawsuit reform measure — sometimes called tort reform — vetoed last year by Gov. Brad Henry.

"We will not bring it back up,” Sullivan said.

"We have the same governor that we had last year. Even if we got this over to the Senate, there hasn't been any indication that the governor has been willing to sit down and discuss the issues, so why spend any more of our time here when we have other bills we have to deal with?”

Rep. Rex Duncan, R-Sand Springs, argued against the amendment, saying SB 156 should be left intact and legislators should force the governor to either veto it again or sign it.

"This is a political stunt in an election year and I'm ashamed that my party's part of it,” Duncan said.

By the time the amendment came to a vote, Republicans, who outnumber Democrats 57-44, were joining Democrats to vote it down. The amendment failed, 63-32.

About 10 minutes into debating the bill itself, Sullivan announced to Speaker Pro Tempore Gus Blackwell, R-Goodwell, that he wanted to pull it from consideration.

Thursday was the deadline for Senate bills to be passed out of the House.

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