Tulsa City Leaders Call For State To Extend Rules Allowing For Virtual City Council Meetings

Wednesday, November 25th 2020, 5:19 pm
By: News On 6, Erick Payne

TULSA, Okla. -

As cases rise across Oklahoma, Tulsa city leaders are calling on the state to extend rules letting them meet online during the pandemic.

A bill allowing governing bodies like city councils to hold "virtual" meetings expired this month. Councilors and some serving on local boards say it's frustrating to return to in-person meetings during another wave of the pandemic.

Tulsa's city councilors met in-person last night to discuss several ordinances related to COVID-19.

As cases in Tulsa County regularly hit the highest daily totals since the beginning of the pandemic -- some are frustrated these meetings can't still be held primarily online.

"I feel like science and date told us to prepare for the fall and winter, so it's not like we didn't have guidance," Tulsa City Councilor Lori Decter Wright said.

Wright says letting this amendment to the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act expire was a mistake. On most days of this month, cases of COVID-19 in Tulsa County have been higher than at any point this year.

"It's upsetting that the governor and legislature aren't doing something, we know we need a special session, especially knowing that it's really unsafe right now," Laura Bellis said.

Laura Bellis serves on a local board in Tulsa. She says local leaders are concerned about getting sick, and not having enough members present to call for votes on critical measures. It's a worry that Councilor Wright shares.

"You have some major cities that operate on millions and millions of dollars, and then you have some smaller municipalities where maybe they're not taking the same level of action. I'm not saying it has to be in-person, just give us the tool in the toolbox, if we choose to use it and are compliant with the law then let's use it," Wright said.

Earlier this month, Governor Stitt said lawmakers meeting in a special session is unlikely to happen.