Gov. Kevin Stitt signed five bills into law that will dramatically increase his power. Critics fear those bills will also reduce government transparency.
The new agency accountability laws allow the governor to hire and fire the heads of the state’s top agencies at will. He’ll also have a say in who serves on those boards.
“I’ve been part of many things at the Capitol that I’m proud that we’ve done on workers comp reform and pension reform and reforming DHS, but this by far is the most substantial reform that we’ve done since I’ve been at the state Capitol,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat.
Speaker of the House Charles McCall said, “We want government to be more effective for the people of the state of Oklahoma. We want it to be more accountable. We want it to be transparent.”
The new laws give the governor the ability to choose the heads of agencies like the Department of Health, the Department of Juvenile Affairs and the Department of Corrections.
Critics worry that will lead to back room deals, and that it gives the governor too much power. The governor says, not so.
“The main thing that this does is it makes sure we are all on the same team. And now they are reporting up to the cabinet, they’re reporting up to the executive branch. So we know when we want to deliver results, deliver change that we’re on the same team,” Stitt said.
The current boards are considered dissolved, and by Friday, the governor said his office will appoint or re-appoint board members.