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Oklahoma GOP governor signs bills expanding his power

March 13, 2019

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma’s new CEO-turned-governor will soon have the power to hire and fire heads of the state’s five largest agencies in a major policy win during his first legislative session.

Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt held a ceremonial bill signing Wednesday for five bills that give him the power to pick leaders for the Department of Transportation, Department of Corrections, Office of Juvenile Affairs, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the state’s Medicaid agency. House and Senate GOP leaders endorsed the bills last week.

Previously, agency governing boards have hired and fired directors. The boards will remain but have less control. Stitt said the new plan will hold agencies more accountable.

Democrats criticized the move as a Republican power grab that will lead to political patronage.