Resolution approved to allow voters to decide on appointment of Labor Commissioner

SUBMITTED

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Senate approved a joint resolution Tuesday to put on the November ballot a state question to make the Commissioner of Labor a gubernatorial appointed position. Sen. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, is the author of Senate Joint Resolutions 65.

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“As the executive leader of the state, the governor should have the power to hire and fire agency heads and should be held accountable for their work,” said Treat. “This is a measure that two years ago, the late Commissioner Costello came and testified before our committee saying that he was in full support. He felt it was better governance. I thank my Senate colleagues for their support of the legislation.”

SJR 65 would submit a question to voters to allow the governor to appoint the Commissioner of Labor with the consent of the Senate for a term of four years to run concurrently with the governor’s term of office. 

Oklahoma is one of only a few states that elect a labor commissioner.

If approved by the House, the state question will be submitted to the Secretary of State to be placed on the November 2016 ballot.  


EDITOR'S NOTES:

Oklahoma is one of only four states to elect a labor commissioner. In the 46 other states, the position is appointed by the governor. Texas has a three-member board that serves this function instead of a single executive position. Oklahoma's commissioner, Mark Costello was re-elected to a second term in 2014 and was murdered on August 23, 2015 in Oklahoma City. Under Article 6, Section 13 of the state Constitution, in the event of a vacancy in the office, the governor appoints a person to serve until a successor is either elected or appointed and qualified by law. 

SJR65 passed by a vote of 33-13. Dan Newberry, the Senator representing the district including Sand Springs voted in favor.