Oklahoma legislative special session gets underway at a cost of $30K a day

Oklahoma lawmakers act to streamline special session, beating back Democratic attempts to expand focus beyond lawsuit reform.
BY GRAHAM LEE BREWER Staff Writer gbrewer@opubco.com Modified: September 3, 2013 at 8:29 pm •  Published: September 3, 2013
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Shortly before Tuesday's session ended, Minority Leader Rep. Scott Inman, D-Oklahoma City, attempted to force a vote to immediately end the special session. Inman was denied the opportunity to make the motion by Republican House leaders.

“They are so determined to get their special interest, special legislation passed that they're going to do all they can to close the process, to not allow any voices of dissent to be engaged in this process,” Inman said during a news conference after Tuesday's session. “That includes even members of their own party.”

Inman was referring to a House resolution filed Tuesday afternoon proposing new rules for the special session. If adopted, the resolution would limit the total question-and-answer time for the entire special session to three hours. The resolution also would put a limit on procedural maneuvers and would set an earlier deadline for amendments.

“They want us to take up tort reform, which took months and months of negotiations, discussions and settlements. They want us to address it all in less than three hours,” Inman said. “That's disgusting.”

The Senate adopted a similar resolution by unanimous consent Tuesday limiting the amount of time amendments on bills can be filed.

The vast majority of the new tort reform legislation has been copied directly from the 2009 measure the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down. By breaking the original law down into multiple measures the Legislature is attempting to reintroduce the legislation and avoid violating the single-subject restriction.

House floor leader Rep. Pam Peterson, R-Tulsa, said since the language is not new it makes sense, both economically and pragmatically, to move the session along at a faster pace.

“I think we've had this language out there, it's not new language,” Peterson said.

“There's plenty of time to debate and make their points and ask their questions. You know, there's a limited amount of time that we have to get the job done, and we need to do it in the most efficient and fair way, and I think this resolution gets us there.”


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