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Senate GOP Leader Welcomes Henry Policy Shift on Tort Reform

“If my particular bill were to be passed, I would sign it. I was serious about that effort last year." -- Gov. Brad Henry, discussing the possibility of future lawsuit reform legislation in The Journal Record, 12/02/2004.

State Capitol, Oklahoma City – New Senate Republican Leader Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City, said he welcomes comments by Gov. Brad Henry that he would sign new lawsuit reform legislation in the next legislative session.

“It is very welcome news that Gov. Henry now seems willing to ignore his moratorium and support new lawsuit reform.

“I anticipate that Republican legislators in both the House and Senate will craft new lawsuit reform bills modeled after the comprehensive reform package that Gov. Henry proposed in early 2004, but later abandoned. Republicans are eager to work with the governor in a bipartisan fashion to bring ‘Texas-plus’ tort reform to Oklahoma, and we will work hard to put just such a bill on his desk in 2005,” Coffee said.

“For this bipartisan effort to work, the governor must convince the Senate Democrat leadership to ignore the moratorium, too, so that in 2005 we can enact the meaningful, Texas-plus lawsuit reform that Gov. Henry promised us in 2004 but didn’t deliver,” he stated.

The governor’s comments seemed to be a shift in policy for the Henry Administration. During the 2004 legislative session, Gov. Henry and his staff helped negotiate a side agreement between trial lawyers and a few medical lobbying groups for a seven year moratorium on future lawsuit reform. Prior to Henry’s statement, expectations were that he would enforce the moratorium by vetoing any future lawsuit reform bill that reached his desk.

Prior to the 2004 legislative session, the governor proposed a comprehensive lawsuit reform bill, but later abandoned it in favor of watered-down legislation supported by the trial lawyer lobby, which is opposed to lawsuit reform.

“Putting an end to junk lawsuits is a key economic reform our state needs to slow down spiraling insurance costs and to get our economy moving again,” Coffee said.

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