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Sen. Thompson to file legislation restoring powers to tourism commission

OKLAHOMA CITY – Senate Appropriations Chair Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, said he is drafting legislation restoring powers to the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Commission, including the ability to hire and fire the agency’s executive director and restoring oversight of contracts and financial expenditures. 

“Our responsibility is to the citizens of Oklahoma – the taxpayers who are footing the bills at Tourism,” Thompson said.  “My legislation will restore important oversight powers previously assigned to that agency’s commission, providing a critical check and balance in how taxpayer dollars are used.”

Legislation approved in 2018 transferred most of the powers held by the commission to the executive director, and making the commission an advisory panel only. The ability to hire and fire the executive director was given to the governor. It also removed the requirement for the commission to meet at least quarterly. Since the law went into effect in 2019, the commission has only met three times, including in July and October of 2019 and in January of 2020.

Thompson said the findings of a report by the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT) on spending by the agency, including questionable expenditures and contracts with Swadley’s Foggy Bottom Kitchen, have shown the importance of restoring the commission’s authority.

“The commission hasn’t even really functioned as an advisory board as had been intended,” Thompson said.  “The legislation I’m writing will put guardrails back in place, restore the oversight powers of the commission, and help ensure greater scrutiny of the use of public resources.”

Thompson said his legislation will be available for consideration in the 2023 legislative session.


For more information, contact: Sen. Roger Thompson at 405-521-5588 or email