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Okla. Rep. calls for special session on healthcare

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma lawmakers were sworn in Wednesday and their Republican majority has never been stronger.

Their first job, though, may be to tackle an issue handed to them by Pres. Barack Obama.

Federal healthcare law requires all states to have a health insurance exchange for the uninsured.

It's part of Obama's healthcare plan.

Oklahoma only has until mid-December to decide what to do about it.

But during today's swearing in ceremony, one Democratic representative seized the opportunity to call for a special session to address the issue.

During a time when lawmakers are generally thanking family who have come to support them, Rep. Joe Dorman, (D) Rush Springs, announced that he would be circulating a petition to call for a special session.

"If we choose to take no action, the federal government will come in and implement that for us," Dorman said. "So this is the only way that we will have some opportunity as Oklahomans to determine how we will run that exchange ourselves."

Some Republicans expressed reluctance to call a special session.

"Certainly I would not be in favor of a special session; that's very costly to the taxpayers," Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman said.

While other Democrats said it may be the only way.

"It looks like we may have to come back and if we have to come back, so be it, we'll get the work done and move forward," Sen. Jabar Shumate, (D) Tulsa, said.

Special sessions are extremely rare and Rep. Dorman said he is not optimistic that he'll get the needed signatures to have one. 

He would need two-thirds of both the house and senate to sign the petition.

He said if Oklahoma does not set up their exchange, either the federal government could do that or he's also heard talk that one could be privately created.