Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Governor Henry May Expand Scope of Special Session

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Governor Henry May Expand Scope of Special Session

Article excerpt

Though legislators had joined together in a bipartisan call for a special session to focus on workers' compensation reform, members aren't so united in support of the governor's call to extend the special session to work on other issues.

By law, the Oklahoma Legislature has four months to get its work done each year, starting the first week in February and finishing on the last Friday in May. However, on the day the Legislature was scheduled to adjourn for the year, May 27, leadership announced they had reached an 11th-hour agreement on workers' compensation reform, one of the major focus areas of the 2005 session.

At the request of several legislators, Gov. Brad Henry called for a special session to give lawmakers a little extra time to get a bill passed based on the late agreement. The special session began on the afternoon of May 27. However, Henry left open the possibility he could expand the scope of the special session at a later time.

Though lawmakers succeeded in approving a compromise workers' compensation bill by Friday, June 3, on that same day Henry announced he would expand the scope of the special session to include funding for the Department of Corrections and funding for the state Centennial Commission, which is planning a celebration of the state's 100th year in 2007.

Extending the special legislative session is estimated to cost the state roughly $150,000 a week.

Oklahoma centennial projects and state corrections officers did not get the attention they needed during the regular session, said Henry. It's my hope that in the weeks to come, we can reach an agreement on funding for both areas and ultimately bring lawmakers back to approve special appropriations for them.

During the regular session, the House had approved funding for the Centennial Commission, but the bill was not heard on the Senate floor before the Legislature adjourned.

That was one of the items that we had on the table, said Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan. We were trying to talk about on that last day of session, and then when the agreement kind of fell into place in workers' comp, everything else kind of got pushed aside, and we just simply ran out of time. …

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