LEGISLATORS pushing for early adjournment

Thursday, May 17th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Some Oklahoma legislators speculated that the 2001 session could end by Friday or next week so that state House Democrats could avoid another vote to oust the speaker.

``I'm sure Monday's actions provided more incentive to adjourn quickly,'' House Republican leader Fred Morgan said Wednesday. Morgan, R-Oklahoma City, tried unsuccessfully to remove Larry Adair as speaker of the House.

But Adair said he and his leadership team have encouraged lawmakers throughout the session to finish work early and keep bills from stacking up for quick consideration.

House Majority Leader Danny Hilliard said completing work by Friday will be impossible. But Hilliard, D-Sulphur, said he hopes everything can be wrapped up by early next week.

``We don't want a train wreck at the end of session. We don't want to see 200 bills stacked up on desks on the last day,'' Hilliard said.

Nearly all the major budget bills have cleared committees and are headed to the floors of both houses.

By state law, the session must be adjourn by 5 p.m. on the last Friday in May.

Rumors circulated in the Capitol a month ago that legislative leaders wanted to end the session early this year, but the rumors died down, state Sen. Dave Herbert, D-Midwest City, said.

The drive to end early apparently picked up again earlier this week, he said.

On Monday, the House voted 50-50 to reject a move by Morgan and other Republicans to oust Adair. Two Democrats voted with the 48 Republicans in the ouster attempt.

Senate President Pro Tem Stratton Taylor, D-Claremore, wouldn't comment on whether a specific adjournment date was targeted by him and Adair. Taylor said he always favors ending a session early.

Sen. Robert M. Kerr, D-Altus, said the Legislature probably can't finish all its budget bills by Friday but it could wrap up by the middle of next week.

``There's an all-out push to try, but it will depend on the next 24 hours,'' said Sen. Ted Fisher, D-Sapulpa.

Legislators must pass all appropriations bills before they can adjourn. Agreements on key bills, including common and higher education and the Corrections Department, have been reached.