The Oklahoma Senate has advanced a proposal that would allow voters to make the offices of state superintendent, insurance commissioner and labor commissioner gubernatorial appointments.
In a statement released by the Senate, Sen. Greg Treat, author of Senate Bill 598, said the reform would allow the governor to be the true executive of the state and be more fully responsible for the executive branch.
“I think the governor should be the true CEO of the state, regardless of their party affiliation,” said Treat, R-Oklahoma City. “The governor should have the authority to hire and fire people to run these agencies, and be held accountable for their performance or non-performance. That is what this proposal would accomplish.”
Treat noted Oklahoma is one of 10 states in which an insurance commissioner is elected. Twelve states elect a superintendent of public instruction and just four states elect a labor commissioner.
Not all senator’s agree that appointed commissioners are a good thing.
In a separate release, Sen. Jerry Ellis criticized the plan, saying it was unwise to consolidate so much power in the executive branch.
Ellis said the reform would remove from the voting public their ability to determine the course of their government in a number of important areas.
“Taking away the people’s right to choose these officials is a distinctly undemocratic maneuver,” Ellis said. “Whether the governor is a Democrat or a Republican, giving them too much power is a bad idea. The people of Oklahoma deserve the opportunity to elect these statewide officials.”
Under the measure, beginning in 2018, the appointments would be subject to consent of the Senate and would run for terms of four years, concurrently with the term of the governor.
Source: Oklahoma Senate