OKLAHOMA CITY – Five government accountability bills are headed to Governor Kevin Stitt’s desk.
On Wednesday, the Oklahoma Senate gave approval to several landmark government accountability bills that give the governor more power.
Supporters of the bills said it would put a system of checks and balance in place. The five bills include the following provisions:
- The governor would have the authority to hire and fire the agency leader.
- Senate would have confirmation authority of the agency leader.
- State agencies would maintain governing boards, but board members will serve at will and the legislation will include a conflict of interest provision.
- 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 by achieving a two-third vote in both Chambers.
According to James Davenport, a professor of political science at Rose State College, the proposal is dramatically different from what’s currently in place.
“When they created the state constitution, they tried to disperse power amongst a variety of institutions and individuals,” Davenport said. “Over time, there’s become the belief a sense that actually reduces accountability because it’s hard to know who do I hold accountable if this board or commission is doing the hiring or the firing?”
However, opponents said there are some concerns.
“We have a board that does not answer to the Legislature. The people of the Oklahoma wanted that in our founding, and I still think they want that today,” said Sen. J.J. Dossett. “They don’t trust us, and I don’t blame them sometimes. That’s why we put measures on the ballot. That’s why we let the people decide.”
All five government accountability bills go to the governor for consideration.
“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 Sen. Greg Treat.