Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

April 23, 2007

Wilson addresses tort reform at Hulbert breakfast

As he was the only lawmaker present at the Hulbert Legislative Breakfast Friday morning, Sen. Jim Wilson, D-Tahlequah pretty much had the floor to himself.

Rep. Mike Brown, D-Tahlequah, was in Oklahoma City Friday for a special weekend session of the House, set for Friday and Saturday specifically to allow Oklahomans to visit the Capitol on their days off work and see how government really works.

But the folks at the Friday morning breakfast got a lesson in government as well – from Wilson..

“I know you came here for the breakfast,” he said.

“But you’re going to have to hear about the state of Oklahoma – because it belongs to you.”

Wilson said that, during the last couple of weeks, legislators have been talking about a proposed budget, after Gov. Brad Henry vetoed their first one.

“At least we’re talking,” he said.

“The problem is, we only have so much money, and if we give every agency what they had last year, there won’t be much left.”

Wilson spoke at length about Senate Bill 507, a controversial lawsuit reform bill that passed Thursday, 25-23, with only one Democrat – Susan Paddack, D-Ada – voting for the measure.

Wilson was very open about his views on the bill.

“I hope the governor vetoes it,” he said.

Wilson explained several details of the bill that he disagrees with, including:

• Relatives of fatal accident victims who are awarded monetary judgments would, under the new measure, have those judgments reduced by an amount equal to any life insurance payments made.

• Relatives of nursing home residents who may have been injured because of nursing home negligence would not be allowed to use nursing home records as evidence.

“That’s protection for the nursing home industry,” said Wilson.

“Not that we don’t need to protect them, but we have to be moderate about it.”

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