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Amendment to Make Insurance Commissioner Appointed Advances in Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Senate has approved an amendment that would allow voters to determine if the state’s insurance commissioner should be elected or appointed...
March 19, 2013

The Oklahoma Senate has approved an amendment that would allow voters to determine if the state’s insurance commissioner should be elected or appointed. SB 598, which would amend the state constitution, cleared the Senate by a 26-15 vote on March 6, and the bill now awaits House action. If the amendment is ratified by voters, then beginning on Jan. 14, 2019 appointees would have to be approved by the Senate and would have four-year terms running concurrently with the governor’s. Ten states, including Oklahoma, elect their insurance commissioners.

Proponents, including Sen. Greg Treat, Republican chairman of the General Government Committee through which the bill passed on its way to the Senate floor, said the bill is part of reforms that would allow the governor to be fully responsible for the executive branch of state government. But Democratic Sen. Jerry Ellis said making the commissioner a gubernatorial appointee would invite possible corruption. “The person who holds that office should be beholden to the voters and not the governor,” Ellis said. The current elected commissioner, John Doak, hasn’t commented on the amendment.

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