OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Twenty Oklahoma House Republicans signed a letter Wednesday night asking Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell to issue an executive order prohibiting healthcare employers from mandating vaccines, while Gov. Kevin Stitt is out of the country.
The full letter can be read below:
In it, the legislators said the vaccine mandates take away “liberty and justice for all.” House Democrats, though, called it political grandstanding.
“It’s pretty rich coming from the party of free markets and un-regulation, whenever they deem it necessary, they come in and start telling everyone what to do as long as it fits their agenda,” said Rep. Mickey Dollens, D-Oklahoma City.
Stitt’s press release regarding his travel to Azerbaijan can be read below:
BAKU, Azerbaijan (July 27, 2021) – Governor Kevin Stitt advocated for the expansion of Oklahoma’s partnership with Azerbaijan during a meeting today with President Ilham Aliyev at the Presidential Palace in Baku.
The governor was accompanied to the meeting by U.S. Ambassador Earle Litzenberger, Chief of Staff Bond Payne, Secretary of Agriculture Blayne Arthur, Maj. Gen. Michael Thompson, the Adjutant General of the Oklahoma National Guard, and Brig. Gen. Jon Harrison, Director of Joint Staff.
“It was an honor to meet President Aliyev and hear from him about ways Oklahoma can continue to work with the people of Azerbaijan,” said Gov. Stitt. “Oklahoma and Azerbaijan are both energy pioneers and I look forward to strengthening our partnership and connecting Oklahoma companies with the many economic development opportunities here in Azerbaijan.”
At the conclusion of the meeting, Gov. Stitt presented President Aliyev with a Will Rogers statue on behalf of the state of Oklahoma and personally gifted him a custom cowboy hat from Shorty’s Caboy Hattery in Oklahoma City.
The governor also had productive meetings with Azerbaijan Minister of Economy Mikayil Jabbarov and Minster of Foreign Affairs Jeyhun Bayramov to continue to strengthen the partnership between Oklahoma and Azerbaijan in the areas of agriculture, energy, education and security.
This evening, the governor will be the guest of honor at a reception held by Minister of Agriculture Inam Karimov.
Him being out of the country, according to the Oklahoma Constitution, transfers power to the lieutenant governor. House Democrats Mickey Dollens and Cyndi Munson, D-Oklahoma City, said they didn’t like the move.
“I know Lt. Gov. Pinnell. He’s way too smart to go be on the governor’s authority and undermine him while he’s out of the country,” Dollens said.
“We’re spending too much time politicizing the vaccine,” Munson said.
KFOR reached out to the governor’s office, the lieutenant governor’s office and the representative that spear-headed the letter. The governor could not give comment due to the time change in Azerbaijan and he had not seen the letter yet. The lieutenant governor did not respond, and the representative referred us back to the letter for this story, but did not comment.
The letter called the situation “medical tyranny.” It also said Oklahomans are “…about to have their paychecks used against them to make a medical decision that goes against their beliefs.”
“If we do not protect the individual’s right to choose what goes in their body, we no longer live in a free society,” the letter stated.
“Businesses and hospitals and any organization that is asking their employees to get the vaccine, they’re doing that because they want to keep their employees and those they serve safe,” Munson said.
This past session, laws were introduced to prohibit businesses from mandating vaccines. However, they never came to be law. Now, the House Republicans are wanting action taken quickly.
“We could and should all agree that businesses can make that decision,” Munson said.
“I don’t see how this helps anyone in the long run other than them trying to use it on the next election,” Dollens said.
Stitt is expected to be back in the state sometime next week.