The cost of Oklahoma's Special Session

Democratic lawmakers, like Rep. Joe Dorman (D- Rush Springs) made their thoughts on special session clear when they addressed other members of Oklahoma's House of Representatives Wednesday afternoon.

"Because we did not do our job the first time, we're wasting taxpayer money, and we're back here," said Rep. Dorman, during a debate on HB 1002.

Gov. Mary Fallin (R- OK), called the special session to address tort reform after the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled the state's existing tort law unconstitutional. Staff members at the Governor's office say the special session costs Oklahoma taxpayers $30,000 each day.

"I'm sorry, I don't think we should be up here," said Sen. Tom Ivester (D- Elk City).

Sen. Ivester says Oklahoma Senate gaveled in for five minutes Tuesday and eight minutes Wednesday morning. Records from the President Pro-Tempore's office show this costs Oklahoma taxpayers at least $7,500 each day. This covers each senator's per diem, mileage, and hourly session employees.

"We have tried to be as budget conscious as possible," said Jennifer Monies, a spokesperson for Sen. Brian Bingman, President Pro-Tempore (R- Sapulpa).

Monies says several interim studies have been scheduled during special session. She says once lawmakers gavel out for the day, they are still working on studies that involve possible legislation for next session.

House Speaker T.W. Shannon (R- Lawton) says the Oklahoma House of Representatives spends $18,000 a day on each state representative's per diem, mileage, and hourly session employees. Speaker Shannon says he supports Gov. Fallin's decision to call a special session, but criticizes the Oklahoma Supreme Court's decision.

"I talk to job creators every single day who are concerned about what the Supreme Court did," he said.

Fox-25 Political Analyst, Bobby Stem says not having tort laws on the books could cost Oklahoma millions of dollars.

"The difference in one case alone can pay for a special session," said Stem.

Sen. Ivester says tort reform must happen, but believes other issues, like school safety and Insure Oklahoma should take preference.

"This is going to effect medical malpractice lawsuits filed in that 5-month period, that's it," he said.

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