Oklahoma Lawmakers Limit Capitol Access, Make Other Changes to Deal with COVID-19

Mar 16, 2020

Credit Serge Melki

After discussions with health officials and rare, bipartisan caucus meetings, Oklahoma lawmakers restrict access to the capitol going forward to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

It will just be elected officials, essential capitol staff, credentialed reporters and state employees invited to meetings until further notice, so no pages, no field trips and no visitors in the galleries.

"We are not in a panic, but we are taking this serious to try to make sure that we protect our staff, our members and the public of Oklahoma," said Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat.

Treat said meetings will be likely be limited to the legislature’s constitutional duty, passing a budget.

House Speaker Charles McCall said neither the state government nor the legislature is shutting down.

"We are committed to finishing this constitutional session and fulfilling our constitutional duties to the people of the state of Oklahoma," McCall said.

Both chambers have agreed to let the other adjourn and return as needed. The House has also made arrangements to allow votes by proxy on important bills, like the budget.