GOVERNOR STITT, HOUSE AND SENATE LEADERSHIP ANNOUNCE AGENCY ACCOUNTABILITY LEGISLATION
Oklahoma City, Okla. (March 5, 2019) – Governor Kevin Stitt, Speaker Charles McCall, and President Pro Tempore Greg Treat announced today five agency accountability bills that would give the executive branch the authority to hire and fire agency leaders for the Oklahoma Healthcare Authority (SB 456), Oklahoma Department of Transportation (SB 457), Oklahoma Department of Corrections (HB 2480), Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs (HB 2479), and Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (HB 2483).
“Oklahomans want three things: accountability, transparency, and results,” said Gov. Stitt. “Elected officials’ hands have been tied in achieving these outcomes, because our current system has given agencies too much independence from the voter. This agency accountability legislation empowers elected officials to deliver stronger oversight, better services, and accountable leadership across five of the largest state agencies. It also serves as a blue print to pursue reform across all of state government. I appreciate Speaker McCall’s and President Pro Tempore Treat’s leadership in negotiating this critical piece of government reform, and I look forward to working with them to get it enacted into law soon.”
“We have been working diligently for many weeks with Gov. Stitt and Senate leadership on these bills, and we believe this plan will greatly improve our state’s governing structure both for now and for the next generation of leaders,” said Speaker McCall. “This has been a shared goal between the House, Senate and the governor, and it accomplishes the framework that we all believed was necessary to achieve real accountability. This plan gives the governor the ability to hire and fire agency directors, and it rebalances the appointing authority to allow the Legislature to actually maintain a check on the boards and agencies that spend taxpayer dollars.”
“Government accountability is essential to changing the trajectory of our state for the better,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Treat. “It’s important for the governor, regardless of his or her political affiliation, to have the ability to hire state agency directors to carry out the vision for which he or she was elected. The system is broken; the system divides the executive branch against itself, which preserves the status quo and stifles innovation and improvement at state agencies. These bills will move Oklahoma forward by giving Governor Stitt the ability to put his team in place to fully carry out his vision for Oklahoma.
“I have confidence that Governor Stitt will seek talented, qualified candidates to lead these agencies. Checks and balances among the three branches of government are good. The Senate is committed fully to our part in the process by conducting a robust and thorough confirmation process of the agency directors.
“I want to thank Governor Stitt and Speaker McCall for their hard work and partnership in negotiating this agreement. This agreement is evidence of how much Oklahoma benefits when the governor and Legislature work together from the same game plan.”
The agency accountability 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.