Mary Fallin

Editorial: The 'special interest' in the special session was Oklahoma

September 12, 2013
The Tulsa World
Editorial Writers

Gov. Mary Fallin tied the final ribbon around the special legislative session Tuesday, signing all 23 bills that the Legislature sent to her.

The week-long special session restored common-sense lawsuit reform measures originally passed in 2009, when Gov. Brad Henry signed them into law.

The measures protect people doing business in the state without giving away the rights of people with legitimate cases.

Earlier this summer, the Oklahoma Supreme Court declared the 2009 laws unconstitutional largely because many of them were rolled into one statute - violating the state Constitution's ban on multiple-topic legislation.

The special session unwound the big law into bite-sized pieces, all of which passed.

The most contentious piece of the puzzle was the so-called certificate of merit bill, which requires a relevant expert certify the viability of any negligence claim that is likely to require expert testimony.

The Supreme Court killed previous versions of that law, finding that they were unconstitutional barriers to the courts and "special legislation," both of which are unconstitutional.

Backers of the latest version say they've fixed those problems.

Expect challenges to that new law and other elements of the special session's work. Attorneys in the Legislature essentially promised as much.

They proclaimed the special session as the special interest special session.

We suppose the nature of "special interests" is a matter of perspective.

Our judgment: The special session was short, efficient and necessary. The result is a return to the way things have been running for years. And the only special interest that was being protected was the future growth and prosperity of Oklahoma.

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