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Oklahoma Legislative Leaders Preparing for 2nd Session Affected by COVID-19

Oklahoma Senate GOP

Leaders in the Oklahoma legislature must plan for a second session affected by COVID-19, this one with infection rates potentially much worse than they were as lawmakers met from March through May of this year.

Legislative leaders are contemplating how to do their work safely. Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat (R-Oklahoma City) said during a virtual forum hosted by the Oklahoma State Chamber that includes allowing Oklahomans to participate in the process.

"I want us to be as open as we can be. I don’t want to have no access like we had to do for a little while last session. And so, we’re working through all of those. We’ll probably see limited capacity still in some committee rooms on the Senate side, and we’re having staff wear masks, requesting members do the same," Treat said.

Senate Minority Leader Kay Floyd (D-Oklahoma City) said there are precautions that absolutely must be taken to protect lawmakers and Oklahomans who come to the capitol.

"My caucus believes that you lead by example and that in order to be a good example for the state that we need to respect and follow the CDC guidelines, and that includes mask wearing," Floyd said.

Lawmakers’ swearing-in ceremonies were planned to be distanced affairs, though several House Republicans did not wear masks at theirs, and two tested positive for COVID-19 after attending unmasked.

Gov. Kevin Stitt’s executive order requiring masks in public buildings does not apply to the legislature and is set to expire before the legislative session begins.

Treat and House Speaker Charles McCall said when it was issued they would follow suit in requiring face coverings.

The legislature has an organizational day Jan. 5, and the session begins Feb.1.

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