The one thing the Legislature is constitutionally required to do each year is to pass a balanced budget. This year, that is as important as ever to ensure the continuation of state services. But with the spread of COVID-19, we have had to take some unprecedented measures to ensure we can still work while prioritizing public health and safety.
For the time being, we have ceased in-person session activities. We will not have session at all this week and are recessed to a call of the chair. Instead of being at the Capitol, each lawmaker is working in his or her own district to determine policy priorities and to answer the needs of our constituents. House and Senate leadership is in communication daily with the governor’s office working on the state budget to appropriate dollars to each area of core government services. The state budget has been prioritized and will be taken up far earlier than normal this session.
Lawmakers also are receiving regular updates from the governor and other state agencies.
The Legislature also has taken the following additional actions:
- We closed the State Capitol to the public last week.
- We ordered a deep clean of the entire Capitol that was completed last Friday.
- We equipped staff and members to work remotely until further notice so work can continue outside of the building.
Beyond those actions, the House passed a new rule allowing for proxy voting so members can vote remotely if necessary.
The governor on Sunday night said his task force is actively working to expand COVID-19 testing through public-private partnerships, engaging OU and OSU laboratories and deploying satellite testing units in Oklahoma, Tulsa, Kay and Pittsburg Counties.
For those with questions about the virus itself, the State Department of Health has established a new website: https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov.
As always, if I can help you with something directly, I can still be reached by email, John.Pfeiffer@okhouse.gov, and my office phone has been forwarded and will be answered, (405) 557-7332.