© 2024 KOSU
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Gov. Stitt vetoes measure meant to protect Oklahoma cabinet member from AG opinion, calling it 'unnecessary'

Blayne Arthur, Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Secretary of Agriculture, speaks at Ag Day at the State Capitol.
Abi Ruth Martin
Legislative Service Bureau
Blayne Arthur, Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Secretary of Agriculture, speaks at Ag Day at the State Capitol.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt broke out his veto pen for the first time in 2024 on Tuesday afternoon.

The state’s chief executive says a bill protecting one of his cabinet members from a recent Attorney General opinion is unnecessary.

Gentner Drummond’s opinion rules Secretary of Agriculture Blayne Arthur, and other cabinet members who are also the directors of state agencies, have to pick one appointed or elected office to serve in.

Senate Bill 1196 was meant to safeguard Arthur from having to vacate her office following the opinion, as she is also Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture.

Stitt says he appreciates the proposed legislation, but that it’s “unnecessary because the law is already clear.”

His veto comes days after Stitt sued Drummond. He argues Drummond’s opinion is a political attack, not based in the law, and Arthur can keep her posts.

“[Arthur] is one of the most respected Agriculture professionals in the nation and we are lucky to have her here in Oklahoma,” Stitt wrote in his veto message. “Without question, she will continue to operate as my Secretary of Agriculture and as the Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture.”

Drummond responded with a statement, criticizing the governor for the veto, referencing Arthur as well as Susan Winchester, who serves as a regent for the Regional University System of Oklahoma and Secretary of Licensing and Regulation.

"The Governor could have approved these exemptions and allowed his appointees to continue serving without any uncertainty regarding their proper status. However, his veto makes clear that he is more interested in pursuing needless litigation than working with policymakers to solve the problem," Drummond said in the written statement.

Two former members of the governor’s cabinet have recently left their roles in the wake of the opinion.

Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell resigned as Secretary of Workforce Development Wednesday morning, hours before Drummond’s press release containing the opinion was published.

Pinnell was followed later that day by Department of Transportation director, Tim Gatz, who gave up his appointments as Secretary of Transportation and Executive Director of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority.

* indicates required

Lionel Ramos covers state government at KOSU. He joined the station in January 2024.
KOSU is nonprofit and independent. We rely on readers like you to support the local, national, and international coverage on this website. Your support makes this news available to everyone.

Give today. A monthly donation of $5 makes a real difference.
Related Content