Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

$112 Million in State Funding Pending in High Court Case

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

$112 Million in State Funding Pending in High Court Case

Article excerpt

The Oklahoma Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday on how long a legislative day should last.

Should it end at the stroke of midnight or at noon?

Can such a day legally last beyond 24 consecutive hours? Those are the key questions raised in a lawsuit filed before the state Supreme Court by Rep. Frank Davis, R-Guthrie, and Rep. Jim Williamson, R-Tulsa.

Davis, the House minority leader, and Williamson, a candidate for attorney general, are asking the state Supreme Court to declare the Oklahoma Legislature's final 25-hour day illegal.

They also want the state's highest court to declare invalid the last eight bills passed by the Oklahoma Legislature.

At stake is $112 million in funding for eight state agencies, including $12 million for the new Department of Commerce. That funding total includes a potential $27 million for the state highway department from a proposed refinancing of turnpike bonds.

The commerce bill passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives shortly before 10:27 a.m. on Friday, June 13 - about 25 hours after House Speaker Jim Barker called the House into session for its final legislative day at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, June 12.

"We could cut a lot of fat out of that commerce bill," Davis said. "We didn't have the opportunity to do that after it was changed three or four times and rammed down our throats on Friday, June 13th."

If the state Supreme Court rules in favor of Davis and Williamson, the Oklahoma Legislature would have to go back into special session to reconsider those eight bills.

The result: that $112 million in funding could be held up beyond next Tuesday, July 1, when the state's new fiscal year begins. …

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