Oklahoma GOP leaders agree to expand governor's power

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Republican legislative leaders have reached agreement for expanding the governor's power over agency directors.

The agreement hands new Gov. Kevin Stitt a major policy victory early in the legislative session.

Flanked by House and Senate leaders, Stitt announced a deal that would give him the ability to hire and fire the directors of five of the state's largest agencies. Those are the Department of Transportation, Department of Corrections, Office of Juvenile Affairs, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the state's Medicaid agency.

Under the agreement, the governing boards of those agencies that currently hire and fire the agency directors would remain but have less control.

Democrats have criticized the move as a Republican power grab that will lead to political patronage.

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