Possible Special Session could cost taxpayers $30,000 a day

Possible Special Session could cost Oklahoma taxpayers $30,000 a day

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Governor Mary Fallin could call a special session to tackle legislation on how civil lawsuits are filed.

"We're going keep to the absolute minimum by having the shortest special session and the most efficient session that we can," emphasized Alex Weintz, a spokesman for Governor Fallin.

This possibility comes after Oklahoma's high court struck down a 2009 law restricting civil lawsuits and declared the statute unconstitutional.

"We're essentially just re-writing and fixing the law that was already in place," said Weintz.

State democratic leaders say the special session could cost Oklahoma taxpayers, $30,000 a day.

"It doesn't make any sense to take up tort reform now," said Rep. Scott Inman, House Minority Leader (D- Del City), "and if that's what we're going to do, that's what's it's going to be all about, then it demonstrates the governor's priorities are out of whack."

Rep. Inman emphasized special sessions should be reserved for more pressing issues, such as school safety or health care.

"That's just demonstrates misguided priorities," he said.

Rep. Inman emphasized with schools starting soon, lawmakers could discuss safety after the tragedy at Sandy Hook.  Rep. Inman also said with the Insure Oklahoma program set to expire on December 31, these are issues that should be at the forefront if the governor decides to call a special session.

Weintz says while school safety and health care are important issues for Oklahoma, calling a special session for these issues specifically would cost Oklahoma taxpayers more money.

"That's not something we can hammer out in a week at the Capitol," said Weintz.

Weintz says he believes the issue of tort reform can be dealt with quickly.  Joe Griffin, a spokesman for House Speaker T. W. Shannon (R- Lawton) says many Republicans support the Governor after the Oklahoma Supreme Court decision.

 "If she decides we need to go into special session, then we'll back her in her decision," said Griffin.

It would take 68 votes to pass an emergency clause for a special session.  The next legislative session begins February 3, 2014.

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