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Oklahoma lawmaker seeks single-subject clarification

Sen. Kyle Loveless, R-Oklahoma City, said Oklahoma legislators should work on ways that would allow more than one section in a bill as long as they deal with the same subject to comply with the state's single-subject rule.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Published: July 26, 2013

A state senator said Thursday that Oklahoma lawmakers should work with state Supreme Court justices on how to deal with the single-subject constitutional provision that has resulted in the overturning of several laws in recent years, including a 2009 comprehensive law that deals with the filing of lawsuits.

Sen. Kyle Loveless said the single-subject provision should be kept, but guidelines could be defined that would allow more than one section in a bill as long as they deal with the same subject.

“If there's a way for us to legislatively define what single-subject matter is, I think that needs to be looked at,” he said.

Otherwise lawmakers are looking at passing separate bills for each section, which will be time-consuming and impractical in a four-month session, said Loveless, R-Oklahoma City. Measures have to pass separate House and Senate committees and a vote in each chamber in order to win approval; changes along the way result in a measure going to a conference committee for additional consideration.

Gov. Mary Fallin is considering calling a special session to come up with new legislation after the state Supreme Court last month threw out a 2009 law dealing with how lawsuits are filed. In a 7-2 vote, they said the law violated the state constitutional requirement that bills deal only with a single subject.

Loveless said he agreed with the two dissenting justices who wrote that legislators and the public understood the common themes and purposes in the law dealt with regulations on the filing of lawsuits.

“Logrolling is when you take an unpopular subject matter and put it with a popular item that has nothing to do with the other,” he said.

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