LEGISLATIVE meeting on Friday canceled

Thursday, September 6th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The special session of the Oklahoma Legislature will not resume this week as scheduled, legislative leaders announced Thursday.

But House Speaker Larry Adair and Senate President Pro Tempore Stratton Taylor said Gov. Frank Keating has agreed to add legislation aimed at fixing problems with the Multiple Injury Trust Fund to the session's agenda.

On Tuesday, Adair sent Keating a letter saying there was no need to meet on Friday unless the session call was expanded.

In addition to the trust fund issue, Adair wanted Keating to add to the agenda legislation to settle a state Supreme Court lawsuit on a $70 million appropriations measure passed during the regular session.

But a spokesman said Keating still wanted the lawsuit to go forward in order to get a legal resolution to the issue. The lawsuit, filed by Republican House members, contends the state Constitution was violated by an appropriations bill that covered more than one subject.

Legislators and representatives of the governor's office worked late Wednesday in an effort to draft compromise legislation on a permanent fix for the trust fund that is used to pay workers with multiple injuries.

Earlier Wednesday, Adair said there was no need for lawmakers to meet on Friday, since no agreements had been reached on two other items Keating placed on the agenda _ congressional redistricting and legislation to make sure federal tax rebates do not increase Oklahomans' state income tax liability.

Adair said Keating also wanted to get an election set in the 1st Congressional District, but ``that is not a critical need.''

He said shoring up the trust fund is critical because up to 2,000 injured workers are wondering if their next payments will be delayed.

Taylor said negotiators ``are getting closer to an agreement'' so the session can be reconvened ``as soon as possible.''

Adair said he doubted the session could resume by early next week, as some had speculated.

Rep. Fred Morgan, R-Oklahoma City, House minority leader, said he had no problems with the delay to allow for agreements to be reached.

But he sided with Keating in insisting reform of the workers' compensation system accompany the effort to beef up the trust fund.