TULSA, Okla. — Hundreds of bills are on the table as Oklahoma’s legislative session kicked off Monday.
One bill getting attention is Senate Bill 224 which addresses mask enforcement in local jurisdictions. Brought forward by Republican Senator Nathan Dahm, Senate Bill 224 would prevent cities or counties from imposing local mask mandates, potentially undoing the mandates currently in place.
The senator says mask legislation of any kind goes against the constitution. Meanwhile, critics of the proposed bill are calling it “dangerous” and a step in the wrong direction.
Eli Farrar, a special education teacher in Oklahoma City is one of them. “I think it’s incredibly reckless,” Farrar said.
She said wearing a mask means more than protecting herself, but her students as well; many of them who have fragile immune systems. Following the latest mask legislation closely, Farrar sees this potential legislation as a step in the wrong direction.
“Anyone in the position of leadership that is not taking the correct precautions to protect us, they’re reckless and should not be making decisions for all of us.”
“They’re confusing the science with the constitution, which are not mutually exclusive. They can co-exist and work together and they should. But ultimately, we should follow the constitution,” Dahm said.
This bill comes just over two weeks after Broken Arrow city council failed to pass mask legislation for the third time. Now, this bill could potentially undo the mandates that are already in place. OU Chief Medical Officer Dr. Dale Bratzler said mask-wearing shouldn’t be political, but agrees enforcing mask-mandates help prevent further spread of the virus.
“The science is very strong that masks stop the spread of the disease from person to person,” Dr. Bratzler said.
Meanwhile, Representative Jason Lowe is pushing House Bill 2192, also known as the “COVID-19 Save Lives Response Act.” The bill would trigger a statewide mask-mandate until the State Dept. of Health confirms hospitalizations remain at or below 300 patients for at least 30 days.
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