Oklahoma lawmakers take mild hand with those that violate Capitol’s masking guidelines Information
OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahomans who disregard the State Capitol’s mask mandate are treated with “kid gloves,” said the Senate President.
“Compliance is difficult to achieve when you are trying to exercise your constitutional right to be up here and address your complaints to the government. So we’re trying to deal with it, (but) we’re treating it right now with kid gloves and not trying to get soldiers and others to speak to people who are not compliant, ”said Senator Greg Treat of R-Oklahoma City. “I strongly recommend that you follow the rules in force in order to be able to respect the health of others in the building.”
Before the meeting began on February 1, those in charge announced that face coverings must be worn in the Capitol if social distancing is not possible.
The mask requirement is designed to help slow the spread of COVID-19 during the four-month session and protect staff and visitors who must be in the building but have not yet been given access to the vaccine. Elected legislators are excluded from the rule.
But less than a week after the session began, Republicans are being criticized for failing to enforce the building’s masking requirements after last week’s first major public gathering that gathered dozens of abortion metabolists. They sang and sang loudly as they stood together in the Senate room. Few wore the required face coverings.
Kay Floyd, Chair of the Oklahoma City Senate Minority, said when she walked out of a committee meeting Wednesday she had to go through a crowd of unmasked visitors.
She complained to a non-commissioned officer in charge of maintaining order and enforcing rules, and later to the Republican majority leader of the Senate.
Floyd said she was “very concerned” that visitors were not following the rules that masks put in all state buildings.
“If it’s not enforced and people don’t follow this directive, we need to make some fixes in the way we do things in the Capitol,” she said.
Treat also said he had been approached by a Democratic senator who had complained about the maskless gathering and directed the senate sergeant to try to intervene. But non-compliance puts the sergeants “in a difficult place”.
Treat, who received his COVID-19 vaccination, said Senate leadership followed “tremendous compliance”. And there was “very good compliance” with wearing Senator masks until they were seated at their desks.
Senate protocols allow lawmakers to take off their masks while sitting at their desks where they can adequately distance themselves, he said.
“I’m proud of the way members have handled it,” he said. “We had a member of the public who decided against non-compliance and we are trying to get better compliance there.”
Janelle Stecklein reports on the Oklahoma Statehouse for CNHI’s newspapers and websites. Reach them at [email protected].