Bids to combine Oklahoma agencies, change election advance

BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Published: February 18, 2010
November’s ballot, which already has nine proposals on it, could be more crowded if two additional issues approved Wednesday by a House committee win legislative approval.

House Joint Resolution 1080 would transfer the Pardon and Parole Board to the Corrections Department and House Joint Resolution 1060 would provide that the governor and lieutenant governor run as a team. Both passed the House Rules Committee and advance to the House. If the House and Senate approve the measures, they will be sent to voters to decide.

House Speaker Chris Benge, author of HJR 1080, said saving money is the main factor for the proposal. Benge, R-Tulsa, said cost estimates still are being developed.

"We’re under a very urgent need to save money in the state,” Benge said.

Some committee members said they are concerned the merger would affect the independence of the Pardon and Parole Board.

Benge said he didn’t think that would be a problem because parole officers now work for the Corrections Department.

HJR 1060 by Rep. Gary Banz is similar to a measure he authored three years ago. That measure passed a House committee but never got on the House floor.