Oklahoma House moves to fast-track special session by setting discussion limits

by Graham Lee Brewer Published: September 5, 2013
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“The thing is, I'm fine with some sort of reasonable time limitations,” said Rep. Randy Grau, R-Edmond. “Let's apply it to each individual measure though. Let's say an hour of question and answer for each bill … But, 180 minutes collectively, I just thought doesn't provide enough time.”

Certificate of merit

The resolution does not apply to what is arguably the most controversial aspect of the original law, the certificate of merit provision. That portion of the law required that individuals suing medical professionals or hospitals had to hire a third party expert to evaluate their case and show that it had merit, a service that typically costs thousands of dollars. In a second ruling, the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down that provision on the basis it created a barrier to the courts for citizens.

Certificate of merit has been reintroduced through a Senate bill. The Senate's Wednesday floor session lasted mere minutes and consisted of no discussion of any of the 16 bills the chamber will vote on during the special session.

While the resolution does not restrict debate, the time in which lawmakers are allowed to make an argument against a bill, limiting debate on each individual measure can be accomplished through a simple procedure. Efforts by House Democrats to get Republican leadership to promise not to try to limit debate were denied on the floor.

“We are just reinstituting that law that has been in place since 2009,” said Peterson. “It is unlike other bills that go through committee when we begin session that's new language and members have not seen it or ever voted on it. But this is restoring current law … and I think we can do it in this manner and fairly and efficiently.”

Both the House and the Senate are poised to begin questions and answers during Thursday's floor sessions.

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 he went on to cover the Oklahoma Senate for eCapitol before joining the...
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