OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - House Republicans on Tuesday outlined a sweeping plan aimed at improving government efficiency that includes consolidating agencies and upgrading technology.
Senate Republicans, meanwhile, announced a plan to address concerns of rural areas of the state.
House Speaker Lance Cargill, R-Harrah, said the Centennial Savings Act will be the cornerstone of the GOP agenda this year.
He said proposed changes, including employing more electronic technology in state purchasing, will save the state millions of dollars over time.
Among other things, the plan proposes to send functions of the agency that now regulates the beer and liquor industry to the Oklahoma Tax Commission and the state narcotics bureau.
That proposal would require a vote of the people since the Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission, known as ABLE, is a constitutional entity.
In an article published today in the Journal Record, an Oklahoma legislative and legal publication, Cargill recommended the Legislature review any “non-core or non-performing state-owned assets” that may be sold off to a private-sector business. Agencies that may be subject to such a review may include CompSource and the Grand River Dam Authority, said Cargill.
“We should be asking ourselves, should the state be in the insurance business, or be operating a power company,” Cargill said.
Other legislation would abolish the Consumer Credit Agency and the Human Rights Commission. The Banking Commission would take over some of the functions of the consumer agency and the attorney general's office would oversee human rights violations.
Other bills would combine the Used Motor Vehicle Parts Commission and the Oklahoma Motor Vehicle Commission and allow for online filing of water permit applications now handled by seven different agencies.
Rep. Ken Miller, R-Edmond, said the state needs a chief technology officer to assess technology needs.
Miller said legislators need to determine how the state can do more business online, including electronic bidding.
“We need to look out for the taxpayers, not the technological dinosaurs who don't want to use the Internet,'' Miller said.
Rep. Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie, said the state has a “`horrible” purchasing system that needs many changes, including allowing electronic bidding.
The Republican proposal would give the governor more clout by allowing him to replace 40 percent of the members of boards and commission during his first year in office.
The agenda of members of the Senate's GOP rural caucus, announced at a separate news conference, calls for more funding for county roads and bridges and increasing the number of doctors practicing in rural areas.
“The success and livelihood of rural Oklahoma directly affects our entire state. Our vision for the 2008 legislative session echoes this thought and aims to bring support to rural families and businesses,” said Sen. Ron Justice, R-Chickasha, chairman of the rural caucus.
The caucus wants to dedicate more motor vehicle taxes and fees to improving county roads and bridges and proposes to immediately eliminate the estate tax, now set to be phased out in 2010.