Senate leader files bills to grant governor authority to appoint five agency heads
Oklahoma's governor would be given the authority to appoint five of the state's top agency directors under a series of bills filed Wednesday by state Senate leader Greg Treat.
“We heard in Gov. Kevin Stitt's inaugural address that he seeks to provide more accountability," Treat, R-Oklahoma City, said in a news release.
"I am encouraged by his commitment to that principle and excited to work with him to bring it about. These bills are a great step toward providing more accountability and returning more power to the people of Oklahoma.”
If all five bills pass, the governor would be given the authority to appoint the administrator of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority; the director of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation; the director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections; the commissioner of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services; and the executive director of the Office of Juvenile Affairs.
The five are currently appointed by the agencies' governing boards and commissions.
Senate confirmation would be required and the agency heads would serve at the pleasure of the governor.
Donelle Harder, a spokeswoman for the Stitt administration, said Oklahoma's new governor welcomes introduction of the bills.
“The Legislature and the governor are united around a vision to make state agencies more accountable to the voter," Harder said.
"This starts by giving the governor the authority to hire and fire agency heads, a measure President Pro Tempore Treat and Speaker (Charles) McCall both support. The governor will be working closely with leadership to ensure the bills sent to his desk to become law are a win for the citizens of Oklahoma who gave us all a mandate to make government more accountable, efficient and effective.”
Treat said the current system of government disperses power too widely so that most agencies aren't accountable to the governor and in turn aren't accountable to the voter.
"The system hasn't worked," Treat said. "The system has bred dysfunction and allowed the ‘status quo' to hold sway for far too long. It's time we change this broken system.”
Treat said the governor is elected to lead the state, regardless of the governor's political affiliation.
"The governor should be able to select the men and women he or she wants to run these top state agencies to help fully enact the governor's vision and agenda,” he said.
The agencies that would have directors appointed by the governor under the bills are among the top 10 agencies in terms of the amount of state appropriated dollars they receive, Treat said.