Today, Oklahoma Governor, Kevin Stitt, made multiple orders which have questionable legal standing. His executive order to state employees at agency offices is not the most controversial of the actions.
What is bringing him 'pushback' from his strongest legislative allies is the orders for all restaurants and taverns to close up at 11pm, nightly.
Rep. Sean Roberts, Chairman of the House Public Health Committee said he's .." not aware of any statutory or constitutional authority" for the governor to make these orders without declaring a state of public health emergency. That would precipitate a special session of the full legislature within 48 hours and a 30-day granting of emergency authority, along with a legislative oversight committee who could alert the legislature of any abuses of executive actions, and a rescinding of authority when deemed appropriate.
Civil Rights Attorney, Frank Urbanic, said it seems the governor is attempting the same unconstitutional action under a 'Riot Control Act" that Urbanic exposed last March. When Urbanic published his legal research last spring, the governor moved rapidly to correct his abuse before the legislature could investigate a constitutional abuse.
House Majority leader, Jon Echols, said last May that it's not likely that the House would have approved a second 30-day extension had the governor requested it.
The Riot Control Act, written for a state of sedition; gives the governor direct powers. the Health Emergency statutes gives emergency powers directly to the top Health Dept. executive. Oklahoma currently only has an interim Health Commissioner, because the governor attempted to appoint a person who did not meet the statutory requirements to hold the post.
Urbanic said he already has taken calls, today; from people intending to file a legal challenge to the usurpation of power that Gov. Stitt has claimed.
Aside from the legal problems that Stitt needs to answer, his remedy is also facing serious & fundamental questioning. To close every restaurant at 11pm, assumes that public health is harmed significantly more during the overnight hours. No medical research supports this finding of human bodies being more vulnerable at 12pm, than an hour prior to that.
And the bottleneck effect of diners rushing to restaurants before 11pm actually creates an artificial crowding of restaurants when they would otherwise spread out more, and been safer at the restaurant or tavern at a later hour when less people would be in the venue.
Municipalities as well as the state will also be harmed as a result of the decline in sales tax collections. Unemployment will go up. foreclosures will escalate, families will be stressed, and this time there is no federal stimulus to help Oklahomans survive this 2nd hit of govt. suppression.
Newkirk Mayor, Brian Hobbs; said his business community is suffering from the drop in sales tax collections, but he's even more concerned for the good people who own the businesses who will be devastated by another shutdown.
Hobbs and Roberts are two political leaders who have supported Stitt consistently. But they both expressed frustration when we reached out to them for comment, earlier this afternoon.