Oklahoma Takes Temperature of Lawmakers for Special Session

Oklahoma lawmakers will head back to the Capitol on Monday for a special session to confirm Gov. Kevin Stitt’s declaration of a statewide health emergency because of the coronavirus pandemic.

But they’ll have to pass a thermometer test before entering the building.

Those posting a temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit will not be admitted but can vote remotely via proxy under a state House rule, according to a House news release Thursday. The state Senate agreed to the safety move.

Lawmakers and essential staff will gather in their usual places, but they will be limited to 10 or fewer in the House and Senate chambers.

Stitt (R) called on lawmakers to return to grant him broad powers during the health emergency. He wants the authority to waive regulatory requirements, as well as the ability to coordinate a statewide response among city and county health departments.

Skeleton Crews

Floor and committee proceedings will be run by skeleton crews of fewer than 10 people, with other members and staff required to listen from their offices.

Voting, presenting legislation, asking questions, and debating will be facilitated by lawmakers going to the floor and attending committee proceedings either individually or in small groups.

Bloomberg data indicate Oklahoma had 881 cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, as of Thursday and 34 deaths.

“Now is the time to align all public health entities in the state as we work together to prepare for a surge in demand on our hospitals,” Stitt said in a news release announcing the emergency declaration. “This will allow us to coordinate resources and ensure all Oklahomans have the best access to the medical care they need.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Paul Stinson in Austin, Texas at pstinson@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tina May at tmay@bloomberglaw.com

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