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.
“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.
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.