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Oklahoma Voters Approve Measure to Restructure DHS
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK -- Oklahoma voters approve a measure to restructure the state's troubled human services department.
"What the state question did is it changed the governance of the agency," said DHS Spokesperson, Sheree Powell.
Tuesday, voters passed SQ 765. The measure abolishes the agency's board of commissioners and its ability to set policy. It shifts oversight and power to the governor's office, which will appoint the agency's director with the consent of the Oklahoma Senate.
"It changed it from a nine member board and it put all that power and authority into the director of DHS, but then it also made the director of DHS accountable to the Governor," said Powell.
OKDHS Director, Edward Lake is familiar with the structure. "In most states, and as it was in Tennessee where I came from, the heads of state agencies report to the Governor."
Supporters say it will add accountability to a department that has struggled with a string of child neglect cases and a class-action lawsuit in recent years.
(R) House Speaker, Kris Steele, has been working for the past five years to improve the agency, "We reached a point where we just need a comprehensive review of our current DHS system."
Gov. Mary Fallin has said the measure will complement Oklahoma's Pinnacle Plan, a $153 million blueprint for overhauling the foster care system over the next five years.
"Oklahomans did the right thing by approving this measure." said Gov.Fallin
"I think we're on track now to really enhance and improve the services that are going to be delivered through DHS moving forward," said Steele.
In place of the commission, Powell says the state question put in place four citizen advisory boards. The boards will be made up of five appointed volunteers. Administration, Children and Family, Aging Services and Developmental Disabilites Services will each have their own advisory board. The boards will not have any decision-making authority, but will provide recommendations to the agency's director.
Posted: Wednesday, November 7 2012, 09:35 PM CST
IN OKLAHOMA NEWS
Okla. highways reopened after Moore tornado
May 21, 2013 04:22 GMT
MOORE, Okla. (AP) -- Oklahoma highway officials say Interstate 35 in Moore has reopened in both directions.
But the Transportation Department said late Monday that travel in the Moore area was still discouraged.
The agency said first responders, utility crews and others performing official duties are working in the area and need clear lanes of travel.
The department says no other highways are closed due to the storms.
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