Mary Fallin threw a party at the Governor's Mansion last weekend. Septemberfest was open to the general public. In Kansas on Sept. 3, Gov. Sam Brownback threw a picnic at his official residence. His cookout was for lawmakers, not citizens.
Both Republican governors called special legislative sessions for late summer. Both were in response to court decisions. Fallin might have heard less grumbling from Democrats this month had she feted legislators rather than voters. Oklahoma's special session wrapped up tidily in a few days, with Democrats still carping about the covered topic (tort reform) and topics that weren't covered (health care, public safety).
Special sessions are relatively rare in Oklahoma, while Texas has had three of them just this year. But then the Texas legislature officially meets only every other year. Florida Gov. Rick Scott was under pressure to call a special session to consider the “Stand Your Ground” law after blowback from the acquittal of George Zimmerman. Scott said the matter could wait.
Fallin said tort reform couldn't wait, after legislation was struck down earlier this year by the state Supreme Court. Brownback asked legislators to change a criminal justice measure affected by a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Special sessions were also held in Maine and Kentucky. Hawaii plans one next month to legalize gay marriage. Special sessions are also being eyed in Minnesota and Oregon.
Congress is seemingly in adjournment more than it is in session. So why do states — with less pressing business than Congress — find it necessary to go into extra innings? Unlike Congress, legislatures are generally part time. Only eight of them meet year-round. Most legislatures, including Oklahoma's, are done by Memorial Day. So when an issue arises that a governor thinks can't wait, a special session call is made.
In Kansas, a call for hot dogs and hamburgers also went out. Mustard or mayo, senator?