" In 2009, the state Supreme Court declared a law authorizing bonds for three separate projects violated the single-subject rule. Earlier this year, the court declined to hear a legal challenge to a bill authorizing a statewide virtual charter school while also authorizing a separate $30 million appropriation to public schools. Now the court has struck down a lawsuit reform measure. Justice Noma Gurich wrote that the bill's 90 sections encompass a variety of subjects 'that do not reflect a common, closely akin theme or purpose.' ”
So a bill authorizing bonds covers multiple subjects, as does a bill dealing with lawsuit reform in several areas. But a bill tying an education policy change to an unrelated school appropriation is a single subject? The apparent contradiction doesn't provide a tidy template for lawmakers to use when drafting legislation."
Justices James Winchester (joined by Justice Steven Taylor) stressed that point in the dissenting opinion: “The majority opinion gives little guidance to the Legislature regarding why the law found in HB 1603 is unconstitutional.”
Winchester noted that "a 1922 state Supreme Court ruling, which cited case law, declared the term 'subject' is 'to be given a broad and extended meaning' so legislators can 'include in one act all matters having a logical or natural connection. If all parts of an act relate directly or indirectly to the general subject of the act, it is not open to the objection of plurality.' The 1922 decision also said the single-subject rule 'does not contain any limitation on the comprehensiveness of the subject' and bills 'may include innumerable minor subjects.' ”
Winchester noted a 1978 law dealing with trial evidence had 78 sections. The Uniform Commercial Code, passed in 1961, had 10 articles and a total of 368 sections covering a wide range of topics.
"If past court decisions declare that a bill containing 'innumerable minor subjects' with only an indirect relationship to a law's general subject isn't a violation of the single-subject rule, how does a bill dealing entirely with tort reform violate that provision?"
Opinion of the Editor
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David Van Risseghem is the Director of Sooner Politics.org. The resource is committed to informing & mobilizing conservative Oklahomans for civic reform. This endeavor seeks to utilize the efforts of all cooperative facets of the Conservative movement...