Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Fent Renews Fight against Special Appropriations Bill in Oklahoma

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Fent Renews Fight against Special Appropriations Bill in Oklahoma

Article excerpt

Jerry Fent isn't finished with House Bill 1105.

Most of the $140 million for state agencies contained in HB 1105 was provided in an unconstitutional fashion, Fent said.

Though the Oklahoma Supreme Court rejected Fent's earlier attempt to halt expenditures made from HB 1105, the retired attorney is trying once more to prevent the state from using whatever funds have not yet been spent from the bill.

On July 2, the state Supreme Court denied Fent's motion for a temporary and partial stay on the funds included in HB 1105.

At a June hearing, Fent told Supreme Court referee Daniel Karim that once the funds were distributed among the state agencies when the fiscal year began July 1, the money would be "gone forever." If the bill was later found to be unconstitutional, the court could only provide real relief under the law by halting expenditures from the bill.

Now, Fent has taken a different stance on the matter.

"During the 'motion to stay' hearing, it was generally discussed that if HB 1105 was not stayed by an injunction or restraining order, the merits would become just an academic/moot issue," Fent said in his Sept. 18 filing. "Such a court ruling would be a major error."

Fent quoted the Oklahoma Constitution, Article 10, Section 23(5) to show that state agencies thus far should have only received a small portion of the funds provided in HB 1105.

The constitution states that the state treasurer shall make allocations to state agencies out of the General Revenue Fund on a monthly basis.

"With July, August and September (almost) completed, nine more months of these state appropriations remain to be spent," Fent wrote, estimating that as much as $107 million of the $140 million spent by HB 1105 remains in state accounts as of Oct. …

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