Legislature approves emergency declaration, gives Stitt unprecedented power

Oklahoma’s Legislature on Monday gave Gov. Kevin Stitt sweeping power to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a special legislative session, legislators approved Stitt’s declaration of a health emergency in Oklahoma, which grants the governor additional powers under the Catastrophic Health Emergency Powers Act.

This is the first time an Oklahoma governor has invoked the act passed in 2003.

Oklahoma’s Catastrophic Health Emergency Powers Act is based on model legislation crafted after the 9/11 terrorism attacks that was intended to allow states to respond to acts of bioterrorism and naturally occurring epidemics.

In Oklahoma, the health emergency gives Stitt and Commissioner of Health Gary Cox broad powers to help the state respond to COVID-19.

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