Oklahoma Corporation Commission to begin in-person hearings, on limited basis
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission will begin to allow in-person hearings next week — on a limited, case-by-case basis.
Protocols developed by the agency’s staff set out the following steps in-person attendees must take:
• Completing a COVID-19 Screening Questionnaire before the hearing date.
• Adhering to an assigned arrival time at the east doors of the agency’s headquarters (the Jim Thorpe Building), which could be as long as an hour before the hearing time to ensure each person arrives at a different time.
• Wearing protective masks at all times while inside the building.
• Having his or her temperature taken using a touchless thermometer.
• Adhering to assigned, socially distanced seating within Room 301, the room where contested hearings typically are heard.
• Departing a hearing separately, upon request of agency workers.
Attendees will be asked to make every effort to remain at his or her assigned seat. Agency officials will provide microphones to participants so that they don’t have to move to a podium to speak.
The number of in-person participants will be limited by social distancing guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In cases where a participant is denied access to the hearing for any reason, he or she may still participate in the hearing via tele-conferencing or video conferencing, based on pre-hearing provided instructions.
Agency officials developed the protocols based upon requests from some companies that have pending, contested matters before administrative law judges.
On Thursday, commissioners thanked the agency’s staff for developing the protocols.
Through this week, the agency has regularly conducted hearings throughout the COVID-19 pandemic using tele-conferencing and video conferencing systems.
Those systems will continue to be used for a significant number of cases filed at the agency.
In a release issued by Commission Chairman Todd Hiett on July 13, he noted the agency’s staff has gone above and beyond to meet stakeholder’s needs in a very challenging environment.
“A good example is within our court system, which has used remote technology to hold 3,111 hearings from March 22 through July 10,” Hiett said. “During that same time period, 2,896 orders were issued. These hearings and orders account for millions of dollars of economic activity in the state.”