This week Governor Kevin Stitt issued several executive orders in an attempt to squelch the spread of the COVID-19 virus. These orders include the cancelling of all elective surgeries and dental procedures, the banning of all gatherings of 10 or more people, and the closing of all non-essential businesses. (find list of exempted businesses here https://bit.ly/2UEU41Q) Essential business which will remain open include, grocery stores, gas stations, and pharmacies. Restaurants are allowed to continue business but only through drive-thru and delivery.
If you need help accessing food or essential items, please see CAIR-OK’s community COVID-19 resource page. https://www.cairoklahoma.com/covid-19-community-resources-and-updates/
How COVID-19 is Affecting Legislative Session
Session went into their annual mid-session recess Wednesday, March 18th In a normal year, they would have resumed the following Monday, however, due to the virus they have not reconvened.
The legislature is not subject to the executive order or close. A recent press conference held by Senate Pro-Temp Greg Treat, in which Treat said they are unsure of when the Senate will return. However, Treat emphasized the Senate has been working on the budget remotely. He also said Senators David, Simpson, and Paxton are in process of putting together a list of bills that must be voted on this session once the Senate reconvenes. The Senate will NOT be voting by proxy.
The House, however, voted to allow proxy voting if necessary before they left for break on March 17th. The House is currently working remotely and plans to continue to do so for the coming week. Although no floor activiity or committee meetings are scheduled. Sources say the budget is likely the only thing they will vote on in the near future, and this will be done through proxy voting.
Both chambers are expecting voting on the budget to happen much earlier than usual, although no specific timeframe has been given.
Two legislators have been confirmed as testing positive for COVID-19 so far. Senator Paul Rosino (R) – Oklahoma City, was the first to be identified, Representative Jason Lowe (D) – Oklahoma City, has also confirmed he is currently recovering from the virus.
Earlier this week, CAIR-OK held a Community Check-In with Commissioner Carrie Blumert, in which she spoke of the challenges the virus is posing for Oklahoma’s prison population. To watch this interview click here. https://bit.ly/3bqdDlh
Our next Community Check-In with an elected official will be with Rep. John Talley (R) – Stillwater, today, Monday March 30th at 1:00PM. We will discuss what challenges Stillwater is facing and what that community is doing in response to COVID-19.
This will be followed by an interview with Rep. Chelsea Branham on Wednesday, April 1st, also at 1:00 PM.
All Community Check-Ins will be streamed live via Facebook Live!
Stay safe everyone!
Lani R. Habrock, Government Affairs Director, CAIR-OK