Legislators extend last day of session

Friday, May 23rd 2008, 7:01 pm
By: News 9

By Alex Cameron, NEWS 9

By law, our legislators don't have to wrap business until a week from Friday, but for some time now they'd been targeting Friday as the last day of the session.

Friday morning both the House and Senate passed resolutions extending Sine Die -- the Latin term for adjournment -- from 5:00 p.m. to midnight, indicating both were prepared to make a final push to get everything done Friday.

The conclusion of session always brings moments like those Friday in the Senate where colleagues paid tribute to departing Pro Tem Mike Morgan, but there was also real work to do; like passage of the $475 million bond package that was hammered out this week.

Representative Guy Liebmann wrote the largest portion of the bond package -- the $300 million dollar road bill.

"It's very important and we have gotten behind on roads and bridges, for 20 years, $200 million, that's all ODOT got, just level, everything else went up like this, so we're playing catch up," Liebmann said.

The bond package also includes $100 million to fund endowed chairs at Oklahoma colleges, money for the American Indian Cultural Center and more, in what Senator Morgan said reflects a truly bipartisan effort.

"There were lots of projects that could have been included, lots of things that we discussed, and what emerged was a priority package that both democrats and republicans could be proud of, that benefits the entire state," Sen. Mike Morgan (D) President Pro Tem said.

The Lieutenant Governor also praised the bond package, but said she's most pleased with legislation approved this week that she said will help shore up the state's aerospace industry and the one in 10 Oklahomans with aerospace jobs.

"It's not just about Tinker; it's not just about Boeing or American Airlines," Lt. Governor Jari Askins said. "We have small manufactures all across this state who are a significant component to the aerospace industry."

Lawmakers did get other things Friday and this week, ethics legislation, for one thing, but clearly the biggest item at the 11th hour is the bond package.

There are three bills that make up the bond package.