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Oklahoma lawmakers advance district-level business courts

The Oklahoma Supreme Court
Kateleigh Mills
The Oklahoma Supreme Court Chief Justice and Administrator of the Courts each get to appoint one task force member.

Oklahoma lawmakers are opening the door for a new business court system by 2026. The measure they’ve advanced is one of four concessions lawmakers made to ensure Gov. Kevin Stitt won’t veto their budget proposal.

Senate Bill 473 establishes two business courts in the state by 2026. One will be in the Oklahoma County District, the other in Tulsa and Pawnee County District.

The bill also creates an 11-member task force to figure out what the business courts will look like in the meantime. Gov. Kevin Stitt will appoint five members, the House Speaker and Senate Pro Tem each will appoint two members, and the Supreme Court Chief Justice and Administrative Director each get one.

Stitt asked for a business court system, along with three other items, on the last day of this year’s public budget summit in exchange for not vetoing a joint budget resolution.

Sens. Mary Boren, D-Norman, and Jo Anna Dossett, D-Tulsa, both voted in favor of the bill.

Boren asked for clarification regarding compensation for task force members and whether there is a need in Oklahoma for a business court in the first place.

“People who are serving on this task force, they aren’t going to be compensated except for mileage, is that correct?” Boren asked Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City.

“That is correct,” Treat said. Elaborating that legislators who may be appointed would file expenses with the Legislative Service Bureau, per normal.

Boren asked Treat about the need for such a court system, too. He said the task force's point is to identify that need and report it back to the governor, once in January 2025 and then again a year later.

The task force will consider everything from how to select judges and how much to pay them to jurisdiction sharing and expected appropriations for future legislatures to consider.

“It’s a simple request to have a task force to look at it, and we were agreeable to that,” Treat said.

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Lionel Ramos covers state government at KOSU. He joined the station in January 2024.
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