“Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others.” – Groucho Marx
Gov. Brad Henry flip-flopped on the issue of lawsuit reform by vetoing Senate Bill 507, bipartisan legislation that contains most of the areas of lawsuit reform the governor himself called for in 2004.
“This is one of the biggest flip-flops in Oklahoma political history. Today, the governor ignored his own promises by vetoing the genuine reforms he called for in 2004,” stated Senate Co-President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City. “To paraphrase Groucho Marx: If you don’t like Brad Henry’s stated principles on an issue, don’t worry, he has others,” he said.
“The governor missed a grand opportunity to send a message to the nation that Oklahoma is pro-jobs, pro-doctor, and pro-business,” Coffee continued. “Instead, he sent a message that millionaire trial lawyers are still running the show.”
In 2004 Henry promised to bring “Texas-Plus” lawsuit reform to Oklahoma – and even campaigned in favor of lawsuit reform during last year’s governor’s race. SB 507 contained 18 of the 28 areas of lawsuit reform Henry called for in 2004. Another 7 of those reforms have already been enacted in previous years.
Henry’s Eleventh-Hour Effort to Water-Down SB 507
Coffee commented on last-minute efforts by the governor’s office to water-down key reforms in a follow-up bill.
“Unfortunately, the governor waited until the eleventh-hour to provide a list of specific changes he wanted to make to the reforms in SB 507. Then, he kept adding to that list over the course of a few hours until it reached about a dozen areas he wanted to change,” Coffee said.
“Gov. Henry’s proposed changes to caps, class actions, joint-and-several liability, and other reforms would have unacceptably gutted the bill’s key provisions,” Coffee stated.
“However, if the governor has a change of heart and decides he wants to be a partner to enact real lawsuit reform, we stand ready to negotiate with him. There is still time this session to pass a meaningful lawsuit reform bill,” he said.