A special session, also known as an extraordinary session, may be called to address issues that are unresolved during regular legislative sessions, which can run only from the first Monday in February through the last Friday in May of the year. When the governor calls a special session, it is restricted only to those matters the governor specifies in calling the special session; however, the governor may amend the call during special session. As the result of passage of SQ 540 in 1980, the Legislature can also call itself into special session by gaining the signatures of two-thirds of the members of both chambers. The Legislature may not prevent the calling of a special session by the governor; however, it is not obliged to take action on the issues it has been asked to address.
There is no constitutional limit on the length of special sessions. However, a special session called during one Legislature cannot extend past the swearing in of the next Legislature. Regular and special sessions can run concurrently.
Special sessions have become common occurrences in recent years. There were two special sessions called in 2017 to address a budget shortfall triggered by the Supreme Court striking down a proposed smoking cessation fee as a tax. The second session extended into 2018 and ran concurrently with the 2018 regular legislative session. In April 2020, after the temporary suspension of the regular legislative session due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a special session was called for legislators to approve the Governor’s state of emergency declaration (HCR 1001x). A special session was held in November 2021 to approve the redrawing of legislative and congressional districts based on the 2020 census. There were two special sessions called in 2022: one called by the Legislature to approve appropriations of federal funds allocated to Oklahoma by Congress as part of the American Rescue Plan Act, and one called by Governor Stitt in the hope of getting the Legislature to pass tax cuts. In 2023, the Legislature called a concurrent special session that ran from May to July to allow it to pass budget bills and override the Governor’s vetoes of various bills.