Journal Record Staff Reporter
Feuding between Gov. David Walters and the Oklahoma
Legislature escalated Monday when lawmakers called themselves
into a special session for the first time in state history.
The object of the move was to salvage 12 bills which became
vulnerable to the governor's pocket veto prerogative when
attempts to deliver them to his office last Friday were
Lawmakers referred to it as Walters' "contentious behavior."
But the governor said preservation of his pocket veto power
was his only defense against a Legislature that was out of
control. He accused lawmakers of wanting to raise taxes and give
elected officials raises amounting to an average of $20,000
By special session convened Monday, lawmakers can circumvent
the pocket veto. During the legislative session, a governor has
five days to sign or veto legislation. If he does not act, the
measure becomes law. But if the Legislature is out of session,
any legislation unsigned by the governor within 15 days is
considered to have been pocket vetoed, and dies.
Therefore, it was imperative for lawmakers to get the bills to
the governor's office last Friday, with five days remaining in
the regular legislative session which must adjourn this Friday.
Those charged with delivering the bills faced an unprecedented
situation _ the office was locked at 5 p.m. and the bills were
House and Senate officials later Friday night "perfected
delivery" of the bills by sliding them under the office door.
They also attempted to deliver another set of the bills to the
Governor's Mansion about 11 p.m., but were turned away.
House Speaker Glen Johnson, D-Okemah, said he was advised by
the Attorney General's Office that putting the bills under the
door was tantamount to delivering them, but legislative leaders
were reluctant to mount a test case in court due to the time
"By refusing to accept our bills at 5:05 p.m. on Friday, the
governor has broken a longstanding practice between the
governor's office and the Legislature of accepting bills and
other communications from each other during a legislative day,"
On several occasions in previous years during the Walters
administration, the Legislature delivered bills and resolutions
to the governor's office after 5 p.m., leaders said. It also was
"standard practice" during the administrations of governors
Bellmon, Nigh and earlier governors, they said.
The special session would be unnecessary if Walters would act
on the bills in question by Thursday, Johnson said. Monday,
Walters said he had vetoed the most controversial one of the lot,
Senate Bill 870.
That bill would raise the pay of state troopers and general
state employees, but also would raise the salaries of such
elected officials as the state treasurer and attorney general by
an average of $20,000 each. Walters said he vetoed the bill in
order to give lawmakers time to come up with a better bill in
this regular session, but he acknowledged they could override the
veto and ignore him.
Walters said the trooper pay raise was sorely deserved, but he
objected to the salary hike for the elected officials. …