The Oklahoma Senate on Wednesday gave approval to three landmark government accountability bills that are a part of a larger agreement to give the governor the authority to hire and fire the heads of five of the largest state agencies.
The bills by Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat give the governor the ability to hire, fire and set the salary of the heads of the Office of Juvenile Affairs (House Bill 2479), the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (House Bill 2480), and the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (House Bill 2483).
“A bright new day is dawning in Oklahoma with the approval of government accountability measures that give the governor the ability to truly lead the executive agency. For these five agencies, Oklahomans will clearly know where the buck stops: with the governor. Regardless of which party controls the governor’s office, the chief executive should be able to set the vision and direction of executive branch agencies. This is a great day and the beginning of transformational change in the way government works in Oklahoma. I appreciate the collaboration and hard work of both Governor Kevin Stitt and Speaker Charles McCall in getting these measures across the finish line. This is a tremendous achievement that will transform Oklahoma for the next century. But it’s just the start. My Senate Republican colleagues and I are excited to be a part of the transformation,” said Treat, R-Oklahoma City.
Key parts of the government accountability bills:
The governor would have the authority to hire and fire the agency leader with Senate confirmation.
State agencies would maintain governing boards, but board members will serve at will and a conflict of interest provision is included in legislation.
The governor would appoint a majority of the board members, and the House and Senate would gain appointment seats on the boards.
The House and Senate would be able to remove agency leaders with a two-thirds vote in both chambers.
The House on Tuesday approved bills granting the same ability to the governor for the heads of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (SB 456) and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (SB 457).
All five government accountability bills go to the governor for consideration.