Thursday, March 07, 2019

Stitt praises House and Senate movement on agency accountability bills


Oklahoma City, Okla. (March 6, 2019) – Governor Kevin Stitt released the following statement praising the House passage of HB 2479, HB 2480, and HB 2483 and Senate passage of SB 456 and SB 457.

“I applaud the House and Senate for their continued dedication to government reform,” said Stitt. “We are one step closer to providing greater accountability and transparency for the people of Oklahoma. These bills empower elected officials to deliver stronger oversight, better services, and accountable leadership across the state’s five largest agencies, and by maintaining governing boards, we will continue to ensure transparency in all agency operations. I would like to thank Speaker McCall and President Pro Tempore Treat for championing these pieces of legislation that will undoubtedly help move our state forward.” 

House Passes Government Accountability Reform Bills

OKLAHOMA CITY (March 6, 2019)  – Three bills that are part of the historic government accountability reforms agreement announced this week cleared the House floor today. Gov. Kevin Stitt and House and Senate leadership announced the agreement yesterday.

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.

All three bills were authored by House Speaker Charles McCall. The other two measures that are part of the agreement will start in the Senate.

“This has been a shared goal between the House, the Senate and the Governor’s Office, and it is a significant restructuring of how our government operates,” said Speaker McCall, R-Atoka. “We all recognize that Oklahomans expect much more accountability in their government, and this plan will ensure that agency directors and agency board appointees are held accountable to those who have been elected to hold them accountable. Under our current system, these directors and board appointments are not really accountable to anyone.”

House Bill 2479 applies to the Office of Juvenile Affairs and passed by a vote of 76-22.

House Bill 2480 applies to the Department of Corrections and passed by a vote of 76-20.

House Bill 2483 applies to the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and passed by a vote of 76-20.

All three bills now head to the Senate for consideration.

Senate Sends OHCA, ODOT Government Accountability Bills to House
Bills part of agreement to give governor ability to hire/fire agency leaders.

OKLAHOMA CITY (March 6, 2019)  – The Oklahoma Senate overwhelmingly passed two government accountability measures that are a part of a larger deal to give the governor the ability to hire the heads of five of the largest state agencies.

Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat’s bills would give the governor the ability to hire and fire the head of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (SB 456) and the director of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (SB 457) with Senate confirmation.

“The century old system we operate now is broken. Agencies aren’t accountable to anyone other than a board of unelected bureaucrats. That is unacceptable and it must change. As the CEO of the executive branch, Oklahoma’s governor needs the ability to hire a team to enact his or her vision for the state. Agency directors will be directly accountable to the governor under our government accountability bills. That’s the best way to inject more accountability into state government and give the governor the ability to truly make improvements all across state government,” said Treat, R-Oklahoma City.

Key parts of 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.
  • SB 456 passed on a 37-9 vote, and SB 457 was approved on a 36-9 vote. Both measures now head to the House of Representatives.

The other bills in the government accountability agreement are:

  • HB 2480, Oklahoma Department of Corrections
  • HB 2479, Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs
  • HB 2483, Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services


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