The Oklahoma State Constitution requires that legislative bills deal with only a single subject (other than the general appropriations bill to fund state government). That is to prevent state lawmakers from throwing a completely unrelated issue on a bill and getting it passed by coercing their fellow lawmakers to support it in exchange for their vote on a bill important to the other legislator.
Last week, the Oklahoma Supreme Court voted 7-2 that the sweeping tort reform laws passed in the 2009 legislative session and authored by Senator Anthony Sykes, R- Moore, were unconstitutional because they violated the ‘single subject’ rule in the Constitution. The high court did not say the policy was bad, but that the legislature needed to make sure they only dealt with a single subject.
In the dissenting opinion, Supreme Court Justice James Winchester said, “The majority opinion gives little guidance to the Legislature regarding why the law found in HB 1603 is unconstitutional.” Winchester cited a 1922 state Supreme Court ruling which declared the term “subject” to be given a broad and extended meaning so legislators could include in one act all matters having a logical or natural connection. The apparent contradiction doesn't provide a tidy template or clear direction for lawmakers to use when drafting legislation.