Oklahoma Health Commissioner Dr. Lance Frye unexpectedly resigned from the post on Friday, effective immediately, the state health department said.
Department spokesperson Rachel Klein said Frye “felt it was time to move on” from leading the agency.
His departure came a day after state Republican leaders, including Gov. Kevin Stitt, expressed outrage upon learning the health department in May issued a birth certificate with a nonbinary gender designation.
The birth certificate was issued as part of a settlement with an Oklahoma-born Oregon resident. The settlement was reached under the administration of former state Attorney General Mike Hunter, Frye said.
Frye lauded “the dedication, resilience and tenacity of the OSDH team,” in a statement released Friday by the department. “They have worked tirelessly over the last two years to ensure Oklahomans had access to not only COVID-19 testing, vaccinations and critical information, but to other life-saving services.”
Stitt, who appointed Frye, praised his handling of the coronavirus pandemic in the state.
“Dr. Frye provided steady leadership during Oklahoma’s COVID response from his role in surge planning on the Governor’s Solution Task Force to guiding our vaccine rollout that was Top Ten in the nation as Commissioner of Health,” Stitt said in a statement.
Although Frye encouraged mask wearing to slow the spread of COVID in Oklahoma and was commonly seen wearing one, he refused to publicly disagree with Stitt’s stance to not issue a statewide mask mandate.
Deputy Health Commissioner Keith Reed has been named interim commissioner of health, according to Kevin Corbett, state Secretary of Health and Mental Health.
Monday, October 25, 2021
Hours after Thursday’s unexpected request by Gov. Ron DeSantis for lawmakers to return to Tallahassee and pass laws against vaccine mandates, Florida’s top GOP legislators had a surprise of their own.
Florida should remove itself from the direct federal oversight of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, they said. The proposal was a reaction to President Joe Biden’s administration announcing a rule, to be enforced by that agency, that says private businesses with 100 or more employees must require their workers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or undergo weekly testing.
Instead of submitting directly to federal regulations, Florida would create its own workforce safety program — an idea that could cost millions and make the state the first to withdraw from direct Occupational Safety and Health Administration oversight in nearly 40 years.
House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, and Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, wrote in a joint statement that the federal agency’s regulations are “onerous” and that a state program could “alleviate” state employers and employees.
Simpson has a history with those regulations. The environmental cleanup company he owned was fined $18,000 by the agency after a worker fell and died in 2014.
The roofing company owned by another top GOP senator, Keith Perry of Gainesville, was fined nearly $50,000 for six incidents between 2011 and 2017, including two in which employees fell and were hospitalized with serious injuries. The fines were later reduced to just over $21,000.
State lawmakers hadn’t proposed leaving the federal agency until Thursday in the hours following DeSantis’ call for a special legislative session.
Florida’s conservative leaders have bristled at the new Occupational Safety and Health Administration rule. Attorney General Ashley Moody and DeSantis said they plan to fight it in court.
But Simpson and Sprowls took DeSantis’ ideas a step further, proposing to exempt Florida from Occupational Safety and Health Administration oversight and instead create a state workforce agency.
“Unfortunately, (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is now being weaponized by the Biden Administration not to protect workers, but to institute an illegal and unconstitutional nationwide vaccine mandate that robs the American people of the dignity of work,” Simpson said in a statement Friday. “If Florida withdraws from (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration), our state plan would certainly maintain, or exceed the effective safety standards that currently protect employees and employers in our state.”
Former Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials say Florida forming its own program would hardly lessen any burden supposedly brought about by federal regulations — for two reasons.
First, any state program would still have to be approved by the federal government. Second, as Simpson noted, agency rules say the program would have to “be at least as effective” as federal workplace standards.
“You’re not going to get very far if you tell the feds you’re going to adopt a state OSHA plan so that you don’t have to adopt federal OSHA standards,” said Jordan Barab, who served as the deputy assistant secretary of labor at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration from 2009 to 2017. “It makes no sense.”
As the House investigation into the Jan. 6 attack heats up, some of the planners of the pro-Trump rallies that took place in Washington, D.C., have begun communicating with congressional investigators and sharing new information about what happened when the former president’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. Two of these people have spoken to Rolling Stone extensively in recent weeks and detailed explosive allegations that multiple members of Congress were intimately involved in planning both Trump’s efforts to overturn his election loss and the Jan. 6 events that turned violent.
Rolling Stone separately confirmed a third person involved in the main Jan. 6 rally in D.C. has communicated with the committee. This is the first report that the committee is hearing major new allegations from potential cooperating witnesses. While there have been prior indications that members of Congress were involved, this is also the first account detailing their purported role and its scope. The two sources also claim they interacted with members of Trump’s team, including former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who they describe as having had an opportunity to prevent the violence.
The two sources, both of whom have been granted anonymity due to the ongoing investigation, describe participating in “dozens” of planning briefings ahead of that day when Trump supporters broke into the Capitol as his election loss to President Joe Biden was being certified.
“I remember Marjorie Taylor Greene specifically,” the organizer says. “I remember talking to probably close to a dozen other members at one point or another or their staffs.”
For the sake of clarity, we will refer to one of the sources as a rally organizer and the other as a planner. Rolling Stone has confirmed that both sources were involved in organizing the main event aimed at objecting to the electoral certification, which took place at the White House Ellipse on Jan. 6. Trump spoke at that rally and encouraged his supporters to march to the Capitol. Some members of the audience at the Ellipse began walking the mile and a half to the Capitol as Trump gave his speech. The barricades were stormed minutes before the former president concluded his remarks.
These two sources also helped plan a series of demonstrations that took place in multiple states around the country in the weeks between the election and the storming of the Capitol. According to these sources, multiple people associated with the March for Trump and Stop the Steal events that took place during this period communicated with members of Congress throughout this process.
Along with Greene, the conspiratorial pro-Trump Republican from Georgia who took office earlier this year, the pair both say the members who participated in these conversations or had top staffers join in included Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas).
“We would talk to Boebert’s team, Cawthorn’s team, Gosar’s team like back to back to back to back,” says the organizer.
And Gosar, who has been one of the most prominent defenders of the Jan. 6 rioters, allegedly took things a step further. Both sources say he dangled the possibility of a “blanket pardon” in an unrelated ongoing investigation to encourage them to plan the protests.
“Our impression was that it was a done deal,” the organizer says, “that he’d spoken to the president about it in the Oval … in a meeting about pardons and that our names came up. They were working on submitting the paperwork and getting members of the House Freedom Caucus to sign on as a show of support.”
The House GOP Fascist Caucus was in on January 6th from the beginning, guys.
They tried to overthrow the government, they had a plan, they executed it, and they broke many laws along the way. And the leader of the Party is going to run again. This problem won’t naturally fade away - it must be confronted. https://t.co/b9GtTplDlJ— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) October 25, 2021
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