EARLY adjournment of session possible

Monday, May 21st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma lawmakers are dreaming of an early adjournment this week, but much work is left to be done.

A tax-cut package, some major spending bills and a late-developing workers' compensation reform package are on the agenda for the final week of the session.

Leaders say there is a good chance the session could end prior to Friday's adjournment deadline.

Whatever happens the next few days, it likely will be anti-climatic to last week, which was punctuated by an ill-fated attempt by the Republican minority to remove first-year House Speaker Larry Adair, D-Stilwell.

Ironically, the ouster attempt, which failed on a 50-50 vote, came a couple of hours after Adair had appeared along side Republican Gov. Frank Keating to announce agreement on a budget package that included a $46.3 million tax cut.

Only two Democrats sided with 48 House Republicans in a move that would have led to the election of Rep. Fred Morgan, R-Oklahoma City. It came after days of grumbling by some Democrats and Republicans over redistricting.

Adair did not try to sidetrack the effort and afterward said he would not punish the straying Democrats by removing them from their committee assignments.

He said he was not worried about future ouster attempts and was looking forward to ending what has been the most successful session in his 19 years in the House.

``I've tried to reach out to everybody,'' Adair said.

Looking toward the final week of the session, Adair said lawmakers must pass the remaining funding measures and added: ``We need to try to do a work comp bill. I think it's going to be ready Monday.''

Workers' compensation reform was part of Keating's program but was pushed to the background after the Senate refused to go along with a proposal to change from a judicial to administrative system.

For the past several days, a number of lawmakers have been working on a compromise, including Sen. Brad Henry, D-Shawnee, and Rep. Jari Askins, D-Duncan.

Under the Oklahoma Constitution, lawmakers must finish their work by 5 p.m. Friday.

It's been more than a decade since lawmakers have ended the session before the deadline.

Predictions of the adjournment date have ranged from Monday evening to Friday afternoon.

``I'll believe it when I see it,'' one legislative staffer said of reports that lawmakers may leave by Tuesday or Wednesday.

Adair said there is a good chance that session can end by mid-week, but adjournment by noon Friday would be a major accomplishment.

``We're not going to rush out of here and leave things undone,'' he said.