Oklahoma state Senator Nathan Dahm files bill to reopen businesses while protecting public health
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Published: 22-Apr-2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the closure of businesses across the state and left tens of thousands of Oklahomans out of work. Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, filed a bill on Wednesday (April 22) that would allow these businesses to re-open and their employees to work.

Senate Bill 1X, also known as the “Oklahoma Return to Work and Bill of Rights Conformity Act,” acknowledges the successful work Oklahomans have done to flatten the virus curve, recognizes those who have sacrificed during the pandemic and works to restore the people’s right of assembly and religion, according to a press release from state Senate staff sent to CapitolBeatOK and other news organizations. 

“I’ve heard from business owners and workers throughout my district and across the state who are at a point of desperation,” Dahm said. “Oklahoma has made huge gains to protect our hospitals from being overloaded, and it’s now time we allow those who desire to get back to work to do so in a safe manner.”

The measure would include provisions for social distancing, encourage innovation, provide businesses access to signage conveying health safety guidelines, limit liability for businesses that open and encourage sick leave for those with COVID-19 symptoms. It also includes a provision that would prohibit local cities and counties from forcing businesses to close.

“It is entirely possible to see the dangers this virus poses, while still seeing the danger of keeping our economy closed and our citizens out of work,” Dahm said. “My bill balances both concerns by providing health guidance for businesses while removing the prohibitions that are keeping them from opening.

“We also have the right to assemble and freely exercise our religion,” Dahm said. “Those rights have been limited but have not received much focus. It’s time to restore our right to worship, re-open our state and get people back to work. This legislation no longer forces people to stay shut down, but also does not prohibit those who prefer to stay closed or stay home from doing so.”

The full text of the bill can be found here: (http://webserver1.lsb.state.ok.us/cf_pdf/2019-20%20INT/SB/SB1X%20INT.PDF). 

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