OKLAHOMA CITY — Gov. Kevin Stitt on Wednesday signed five measures that allow him to hire, fire and set the salary of directors at five large state agencies.
The action came just hours after the Senate gave final approval to three of the measures.
The agencies are the Office of Juvenile Affairs; Oklahoma Department of Corrections; Oklahoma Health Care Authority; Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services; and Oklahoma Department of Transportation.
The bills signed are House Bill 2479; House Bill 2480; House Bill 2483; Senate Bill 456; and Senate Bill 457.
“We are going to let everybody come back and reinterview,” he said of the current directors. “We are not going to be heavy-handed in that process. The main thing that this does, it makes sure we are all on the same team.”
Directors were previously hired by the governing boards of the agencies.
The agency director appointments require Senate confirmation, and they could be removed by a vote of two-thirds in both chambers.
“Before, sometimes agencies would work against the Legislature or work against the Governor’s Office,” Stitt said. “They could hire lobbyists. They would go out and hold press conferences to try to kill make-sense changes. Now we know we are all on the same team.”
Stitt said the boards and commissions affected by the bills are dissolved immediately.
“By Friday, we will appoint or reappoint the new board members,” he said.
No meetings or business will be missed, Stitt said. The boards will still be in place to help oversee the agencies, promulgate rules and approve contracts, Stitt said.
“These things will still happen in the open,” Stitt said.
House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, called it a historic day, saying the measures are transforming state government. He said he thinks the public will quickly see positive changes as a result of the measure.
Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, called the measures a huge deal for the state. Treat said it is the most substantial legislation passed and signed since he has been at the Capitol.
Stitt, surrounded by members of the House and Senate, signed the measures in the Capitol’s Blue Room on the second floor.