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Oklahoma Supreme Court refuses to take up legal challenge to charter school, textbook law

Attorney claimed the law was illegal because it placed multiple subjects into a single bill.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Published: January 18, 2013

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has refused to hear a legal challenge to a law passed last year that authorized a statewide virtual charter school and $30 million for textbooks for public schools.

State attorneys argued that Senate Bill 1816 is legal because both items in the measure fall under the subject of education. The Supreme Court voted 5-4 not to hear the challenge.

Jerry Fent, an Oklahoma City attorney, said the measure should be struck down because it violates a constitutional prohibition on placing multiple subjects into a single bill.

“I'm very disappointed they denied it because it was a simple issue of logrolling,” he said. “This was an appropriation based with a substantive law for charter schools. It was obviously a multisubject matter which is a violation of the constitution.”

State attorneys said it did not violate the one-subject rule in the state constitution because it is an education bill; the textbooks directly relate to public education of children and the charter school provision relates to education. They said the measure was a special appropriation to the state Education Department.

Fent also argued the state constitution requires that general appropriation bills should consist of nothing but allocating money for the state and other appropriations must be made by separate bills.

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