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Oklahoma AG Anticipating Lawsuits over State's COVID-19 Actions

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As Oklahoma responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, residents and businesses across the state have been affected by executive orders from Gov. Kevin Stitt.

Attorney General Mike Hunter told lawmakers on Thursday that could create a lot of work for his office in the near future.

"We’re getting a lot of demand letters that we’re trying to handle in a diplomatic fashion, but our assessment is those demand letters are in the nature of laying the groundwork for future litigation," Hunter said.

Hunter said if his office is forced to make 3% budget cuts as part of Oklahoma’s plan to deal with a shortfall projected next fiscal year, it will not have the staffing needed to adequately defend the state in court. That could mean paying more for private counsel.

"And that costs the state anywhere from a multiple of five to 10 times more," Hunter said.

The state could also wind up paying settlements or judgments.

Several agencies were asked to outline their plans to deal with 3% cuts. Lawmakers intend to cover this fiscal year’s projected $416.8 million shortfall, but cuts are being discussed for FY2021.

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