Alva Review-Courier -

Senate Review: Legislature approves use of Catastrophic Emergency Powers Act for first time in state history

 

April 15, 2020



The legislature convened at the Capitol on Monday to approve Gov. Stitt's declaration of a health emergency under the Catastrophic Emergency Powers Act, which was passed in 2003 in response to 9/11. This is the first time in our state's history this act has been used and approved. The governor now has additional powers to spend money and suspend rules and regulations to better coordinate COVID-19 response efforts across the state for the next 30 days.

We also passed three bills to address the now expected $416 million budget shortfall for 2020. The legislation authorizes withdrawals to fill the budget gap from the Revenue Stabilization Fund and the Rainy Day Fund, which are the state's savings accounts. The legislature is committed to fully funding the 2020 budget, which is why we acted swiftly to ensure the stability of our core services during this uncertain time.

While at the Capitol, we took extra precaution to follow Centers for Disease Control recommendations to ensure the safety of all who were present. Upon entering the building, we were screened for a fever. Individual masks were sewn for us by a Senate staffer to reduce the transmission of germs, and we were required to stay in our offices until it was our turn to vote. We asked questions, debated and voted in small groups to adhere to CDC social distancing recommendations, and took extra precaution to stay at least 6 feet away from each other at all times. It was a very somber experience during this extremely difficult time.

If you suspect you may have COVID-19, the Garfield, Grant and Kay county health departments are each offering mobile testing by appointment only for those who are exhibiting virus symptoms including a fever, cough and shortness of breath. If you have symptoms of the virus, please be tested immediately. Increased testing is the only way we will have an accurate picture of the true impact COVID-19 is having across our communities, state and nation. Even if you feel well and are exhibiting no symptoms, I continue to encourage you to stay home unless you must get out for the essentials. We all must do our part to flatten the curve of the virus so we can get back to our normal lives.

Finally, I'd like to thank our doctors, nurses and first responders who are on the frontlines in the battle against COVID-19. These men and women are risking their lives to take care of our loved ones, and we owe them much gratitude. Thank you – and my prayers are with each of you during this critical time in history.

Please continue to pray for those who have been impacted by this virus. If there is an issue I can help you with during this time, please feel free to reach out. You can contact me at 405-521-5630 or via email at Roland.Pederson@oksenate.gov.

 

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