State Leaders Brace For Layoffs During Coronavirus Pandemic
With restaurants and businesses closing down, and with so many people working from home reducing the need for oil, Oklahoma is poised to face serious job cuts.
“You know that’s the thing that keeps you up at night is the Oklahoma workers, how this is affecting them,” said Governor Kevin Stitt.
Representative Mickey Dollens (D) of Oklahoma City said he has a plan to streamline the process for accessing unemployment benefits.
“Right now, what we could do is we could waive the fee to employers for having to give someone unemployment or grant unemployment because of a public health crisis. As of now that definition is not in statute,” said Dollens.
Dollens said the state could also add a public health statute to unemployment regulations, waive the work search requirement for the duration of the state emergency, and get rid of the one-week non-paid waiting period after initiating a claim.
“This was started before computers were in place at the unemployment office. And now since it’s in place we could get people the funding they need immediately when they are laid off from work so that they’re not having to stress about how they pay bills,” he said.
“Our administration is looking at all those kind of things. I know there’s levers we can pull to help some of our small businesses. One of the reasons we signed the emergency declaration was to give our small businesses access to some federal dollars and some low interest loans,” said Stitt.
“Everything should be on the table including moratoriums on evictions, rents, and homeowner mortgages. Right now, it’s looking like this could get worse and if we’re in the situation Italy is we need to be taking all the precautions we can right now,” added Dollens.
Dollens said while some of his ideas would have to be implemented on the federal level, most could be done through state legislation. The legislature if off for the rest of the week, and after a senate staffer tested positive for COVID-19 Tuesday, it’s unclear whether they’ll return to the Capitol next week or pass bills via teleconferencing.