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Where do coronavirus bills stand in the Oklahoma legislature?

Mairead Todd / KOSU

Conservative Oklahoma lawmakers are working to ensure the state shies away from the mitigation efforts it implemented early in the coronavirus pandemic.

Rep. Mark Lepak's House Bill 3878 passed out of the House Public Health Committee last week. It would require employers to let their workers opt out of vaccines for moral reasons. Existing exemptions let people opt out for religious reasons, and often require some kind of note from a pastor or other religious leader.

Lepak said this is less for shots like the hepatitis C ones a plumbing and sewage company might require before employment, and more for situations like COVID, where existing employees were subjected to new requirements in a highly politicized public health landscape.

Rep. Kevin West successfully ushered another bill, House Bill 3159, out of the same committee last week. It is intended to cut down on regulations that require their students to quarantine with diseases like COVID.

Other coronavirus-related bills making their way through the legislative process include:

  • House Bill 3313: Adds new provisions to the No Patient Left Alone Act, which creates visitation protections for Oklahoma hospital patients. This bill, which follows legislation passed last year, creates a path for patients to sue hospitals for violating the act. It passed out of committee last week; it’s headed to a full House vote.
  • House Bill 3020: Ensures Oklahomans in hospitals and long-term care facilities can have clergy and religious leaders come visit them, even when the health provider has limited visitations, a policy that was common in COVID hospitalization spikes. The bill passed off the House floor last week.
  • House Bill 3145: Bans out-of-home quarantine requirements (existing law allows health agencies to require quarantines in a hospital, for example). Places the onus for enforcing quarantine on parents. The measure passed out of committee last wee; it’s headed to a full House vote.
Catherine Sweeney was StateImpact Oklahoma's health reporter from 2020 to 2023.
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