Governor Mary Fallin finally ended the speculation that a special session would be called by issuing an executive order today for the Oklahoma Legislature to meet beginning Tuesday, September 3. The executive order calls on lawmakers to re-institute components of House Bill 1603, a comprehensive lawsuit reform package signed into law in 2009.
HB 1603 was designed to reduce the number of frivolous lawsuits and medical malpractice claims filed in Oklahoma, making the state more business friendly and protecting Oklahoma physicians from frivolous lawsuits. It was passed with bipartisan support and signed into law by Democratic Governor Brad Henry.
Earlier this year, the law was struck down by the Oklahoma Supreme Court for violating the Oklahoma Constitution’s “single-subject” rule, a prohibition on legislative logrolling. Fallin is calling on legislators to separate the law into different bills, thus reinstating the policy without violating the single subject rule.
Fallin said in the weeks since the court ruled the law unconstitutional, that “at least a dozen lawsuits have been reopened against hospitals, doctors and other employers.” Fallin fears this will only cause medical costs to rise.
In recent weeks, lawmakers anticipating this special session, have asked other topics to be reviewed, such as prison overcrowding and loss of school funds due to the passing of State Question 766, which eliminated tax assessments on intangible personal property.