Oklahoma Legislature Special Session Likely

Wednesday, May 31st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Gov. Frank Keating's plan to call the Legislature into special session has raised the ire of at least one lawmaker, who said most Oklahomans don't want "year-round government." In a letter to Keating, Rep. Wayne Pettigrew, R-Edmond, said that in the six years he has served in the Oklahoma House, a special session has been called in three of them. "This is too many." "The people of Oklahoma did not want year-round government and rightly constitutionally mandated that the Legislature adjourn its session on the last Friday in May each year. They meant it,"Pettigrew said in a letter he delivered to Keating's office Tuesday. Keating announced plans to call the Legislature into special session just minutes after lawmakers adjourned their four-month-long regular session last week. The call for the special session includes car tag and workers' compensation reform -- two issues that Democrat and Republican lawmakers could not agree on during the regular session. "The Legislature didn't get that done," Keating press secretary John Cox said. Keating vetoed a Democrat-backed car tag reform bill, the second year in a row that the Republican governor has vetoed car tag reform legislation. "He's not any more excited about that than anyone else," Cox said. "But we want to see if we can get some things done. These two issues need to be addressed." Although no date has been set for the special session, Cox said it likely will be scheduled in mid-July. "That's just more taxpayer money out the door," Pettigrew said. A special session of the Legislature generally lasts at least one week and costs at least $100,000. "They're right. It costs money and it's not what we want to be doing, either," Cox said. Pettigrew said year-round legislative sessions are difficult for lawmakers who work for a living. "Most Republican members are truly citizen legislators who balance their service to the state with private avocations and businesses which insure that they remain a product of the same constituency which elected them to public service," Pettigrew said. Before adjourning the regular session, the Democrat-dominated Legislature placed the Democrat car tag reform proposal on a statewide ballot for a vote of the people Aug. 22. But Pettigrew said the Legislature's failure "to properly address crucial issues" will lead to the election of more Republican lawmakers this fall. "He makes some good points," Cox said. "It's not the Republicans who are the problem here. It's the Democrats."