HUNTER (copy)

Attorney General Mike Hunter speaks about a $270 million settlement with Purdue Pharma for opioid abuse in the state on March 26, 2019. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World file

OKLAHOMA CITY — Lawmakers unhappy they were not consulted about the state’s $270 million opioid lawsuit settlement with drug manufacturer Purdue took a big step Tuesday toward limiting attorneys general from similar agreements in the future.

House Bill 2751, one of more than 45 measures introduced in the last few days as part of the state budget package, specifies that settlements and judgments won by the attorney general’s office must be paid into the general fund or to a state agency that is a party to the lawsuit in question.

In presenting HB 2751, Rep. Terry O’Donnell, R-Catoosa, said the “clarification” is the result of the Purdue settlement.

That settlement, announced in March, involved $192.5 million of the $270 million going to an addiction research and treatment program at the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences in Tulsa.

Another $59.5 million was distributed among the state’s private attorneys.

Hunter, who declined to comment on HB 2751, has said the deal was structured so that Purdue could argue the money paid to OSU-CHS should not set a precedent for other litigation pending against it.

Hunter and the private attorneys in the case said without the agreement Purdue would have likely declared bankruptcy, in which case the state would have gotten nothing.

Many lawmakers were furious with Hunter, saying they and the governor’s office should have been consulted. Some questioned even the legality of the agreement.

Friday, Gov. Kevin Stitt said he was not satisfied with the way the settlement was handled although he did not object to the settlement itself.

HB 2751 now heads to the Senate.

Among the other legislation approved by the House Tuesday was HB 2758, which designates $10 million for the construction of a new medical examiner’s facility in Tulsa.

The Legislature is set to conclude this year’s session on Thursday.

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Randy Krehbiel


Twitter: @rkrehbiel

Randy has been with the Tulsa World since 1979. He is a native of Hinton, Okla., and graduate of Oklahoma State University. Krehbiel primarily covers government and politics. Phone: 918-581-8365

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