When the Legislature convened in special session last week, we argued that the gathering should largely be a formality. Due to an Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling, lawmakers were simply re-approving legislation that passed with bipartisan support in 2009. The court ruled the previous law covered too many subjects. So lawmakers were asked to re-enact the law through a few dozen bills instead of one.
To streamline the process and reduce delays that could extend the session and increase taxpayer costs, House members adopted rules limiting debate on some measures. The House Democratic leadership howled in outrage, insisting the rules were preventing thorough review of legislation. Yet this feigned outrage was undermined by their own actions — particularly by the votes they've since cast.
During the Thursday morning session of the House, lawmakers voted on just five bills. This took 2 hours and 41 minutes before approval. That's hardly a mad rush. Democrats asked questions throughout; Democratic members often debated against individual bills. But those measures all got substantial bipartisan support, with at least 31 percent of House Democrats supporting each of the five bills.
House Bill 1011, which modified pleading requirements, passed 80-16. House Bill 1009, creating the School Protection Act, passed 94-2. House Bill 1005, creating the Uniform Emergency Volunteer Health Practitioners Act, passed 96-1. House Bill 1004, which prevents firearm manufacturers from being sued for gun crimes, passed 92-0. House Bill 1007, which exempts some peer-review information from the discovery process, passed 82-15.