Tuesday, March 12, 2019

House sends agency reform bills to Governor's desk


House Passes Remaining Government Accountability Reform Bills

OKLAHOMA CITY – The House of Representatives passed the final two bills that are part of the historic government accountability reforms agreement announced last week between Gov. Kevin Stitt and House and Senate leadership.

Senate Bill 456 applies to the Oklahoma Healthcare Authority and passed by a vote of 74-23.

Senate Bill 457 applies to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and passed by a vote of 75-23.

The House passed the other three bills in the agreement last week. All five bills in the agreement were authored by House Speaker Charles McCall and Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat (R-Oklahoma City).

“Oklahomans expect more accountability from their government, and, right now, our agency directors and agency boards are not really accountable to anyone – including the governor,” said Speaker McCall, R-Atoka. “This plan creates a structure that can deliver accountability much more effectively for our citizens. I am very thankful for the leadership and cooperation of Gov. Stitt and President Pro Tempore Treat in working with House Republicans to craft this agreement. These bills ensure that the governor will be the chief executive of the executive branch by allowing him to hire and fire those agency directors, and it ensures that the Legislature maintains some oversight over those agencies that spend taxpayer money.”

The plan gives the governor the ability to hire and fire the directors of five state agencies, including the Office of Juvenile Affairs, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and the Department of Transportation. The plan also retains the agency boards that provide oversight over those agencies and rebalances the appointment authority for those boards. It makes all board appointments “at will,” meaning they can be removed at any time by the appointing authority. Those boards would remain subject to the Open Records and Open Meetings Acts and would retain the ability to promulgate rules and perform other board activities.

The plan gives the governor five appointments on each board and gives the Legislature four appointments each, divided between Speaker of the House and the Senate President Pro Tempore. The plan also gives the Senate advice and consent on the governor’s agency director appointments. In addition, the plan allows the Legislature to remove any of the five agency directors with a vote of two-thirds approval in both chambers.

Both bills now head to the governor’s desk to await his signature. 

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