SQ 765 – What does its passage mean to OKDHS?

What does the passage of State Question 765 mean to the Department of Human Services and OKDHS employees? How will the yes vote on that question impact the current roles of hard-working front line employees at the entity?

The short answer: It won’t.

Rumors that the passage of SQ 765 – which dealt with amending and removing certain aspects of Article 25 of the state constitution – would mean the end of OKDHS are simply incorrect. The question, which passed with nearly 60 percent of the vote, states that the measure would abolish the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, the Oklahoma Commission of Human Services and the position of the Director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. However what the state question did was remove those entities from the state constitution and replace them with a different type of oversight from the governor instead of the commission.

Here’s what you need to remember: none of that means OKDHS is going away. The language, which is admittedly murky and confusing, does not dissolve OKDHS and does not mean OPEA members at OKDHS are suddenly out of work. Remember, OKDHS is a state agency which was originally established in the state constitution, meaning changes to its oversight could only come from votes of the people or by removing it from the constitution. However, most OKDHS roles and responsibilities are carried out via titles in state statute. A state question cannot impact that, as statutes are dealt with by legislation.

The passage of state question 765 now means HB 3137, which was passed in the last legislative session to replace the oversight of OKDHS if state question 765 passed, can now go into effect. Per HB 3137, the Governor is given the authority to hire the OKDHS director with approval of the Senate. The OKDHS Commission will be replaced with four citizen advisory committees which will provide recommendations to the Director of OKDHS. These advisory committees are: children and family issues, aging issues, disability issues, and administration. The members of those committees will be chosen by the House and Senate Majority and Minority Leaders as well as the Governor.

Rumors of your job being removed are simply not true. Also, rumors that OKDHS employees will become unclassified are false as well. You will NOT lose classified status due to the passage of SQ 765.

Just remember that you still have a job and that OKDHS still stands and isn’t going anywhere. We value your membership with OPEA and value the service you give to the state of Oklahoma. We realize there are a lot of questions and concerns about this measure. If you do have concerns on this, you can contact Haley Blood at (405) 524-6764 or via email at haleyb@opea.org.

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