Ethics Commission seeks more funds
A proposed 25 percent increase in funding for the upcoming fiscal year is needed just to keep up with operating expenses, the executive director of the Oklahoma Ethics Commission said Friday. The $7.1 billion budget agreement worked out by the governor and legislative leaders calls for a $150,000 increase to the agency, putting its funding at $738,129 for the 2014 fiscal year that begins July 1. Slater, who was hired earlier this year and started his duties full time May 1, said the agency, which is authorized to have six full-time employees, has five full-time and one part-time worker. The agency went three months with just two clerical staff and is starting to catch up with its backlog of work, he said. Commissioners met in closed session Friday and took up five complaints; they dismissed two and dismissed three others with instructions to refer them to the appropriate district attorney.
Bills to cut boards, commissions
Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law two measures Friday that will eliminate or consolidate 55 boards and commissions in state government. House Bill 1455 eliminates 27 boards and commissions that are defunct, duplicative or are no longer necessary to include in state statutes. By eliminating travel reimbursements and staff work time on these boards, HB 1455 is estimated to save more than $50,000 annually, according to the governor's office. HB 1467 consolidates 28 boards and commissions into seven new boards overseen by the Health Department. The elimination of reimbursements and staff work time related to these boards is estimated to save more than $300,000 annually, according to the governor's office. Earlier this session, Fallin signed into law other consolidation measures, including:
• HB 1481, which repeals the Oklahoma Linked Deposit Review Board.
• HB 1482, which repeals the high-hazard dams study group.
• Senate Bill 621, which consolidates the Oklahoma BioEnergy Center into the Oklahoma Energy Initiative.
• SB 767, which transfers the duties, assets and obligations of the Commission on Marginally Producing Oil and Gas Wells to the Committee for Sustaining Oklahoma's Energy Resources.
• SB 1011, which eliminates or consolidates 16 boards and commissions under the secretary of agriculture.
MICHAEL MCNUTT, CAPITOL BUREAU