While we've questioned the wisdom of holding a special session due to taxpayer costs, we don't question the need for lawsuit reform. Frivolous litigation burdens Oklahoma's economy and impedes economic growth and job creation.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court's decision to strike down a 2009 lawsuit reform law was based primarily on a technicality — logrolling — not the actual merits of the bill. As a result, lawmakers can reconvene in special session to pass the same law again, only this time they will use a few dozen bills to achieve that goal instead of one bill.
Approval of those bills should be done as quickly as possible. Lawmakers aren't reinventing the wheel; they're recycling one. The issues facing them have already been debated. No new legislative language will have to be drafted. The bills will simply be the legislative version of a cut-and-paste job. Therefore, the special session should be mostly a formality with little real activity beyond voting.
No doubt, Democrats opposed to lawsuit reform will still insist on re-debating these issues. That's their right, but they should resist the urge to employ time-wasting shenanigans. This law passed in 2009 with bipartisan support and was signed by a Democratic governor. Clearly, this special session is not a partisan exercise.
Gov. Mary Fallin wisely resisted calls to expand the special session to include other issues such as Medicaid expansion or corrections funding. Those issues require serious, ongoing debate, which will require far more than five days. Those issues are better suited for the regular legislative session in February.
Oklahoma lawmakers should have two goals for this special session: Keep it simple, and keep it short.
Due to constitutional requirements regarding legislative procedure, the special session must run at least five days. Given the simplicity of the task before them, there's no reason legislators should require a sixth.