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Lawmakers To Concentrate On Consolidation

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ House Speaker Lance Cargill on Monday said lawmakers will concentrate during the legislative interim on finding ways to streamline state government.

``Over the decades, Oklahoma's state government has simply grown too large and there are a number of state departments and commissions that could easily be combined into other corresponding portions of state government,'' said Cargill, R-Harrah.

In a statement, he announced that Rep. Ken Miller will lead a comprehensive interim study in search of ways to consolidate.

Miller, R-Edmond, said many state agencies are duplicating the work of others, creating inefficiencies and costing taxpayers money.

``We need to be better stewards of the taxpayers' dollars,'' he said.

An alphabetical listing on the state government Web site contained the names of 140-plus agencies and commissions, counting some that do not receive appropriated dollars.

At Cargill's urging, the Legislature this year abolished about 20 boards and commissions deemed either inactive or unnecessary.

Besides Miller's study, the speaker listed five individual reviews planned by other House members with an eye toward consolidation.

One to be conducted by Rep. Dale Dewitt, R-Braman, will examine agencies that oversee state water issues.

Dewitt said it may be possible to combine the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, which has a budget of $6.8 million, and the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, which has a budget of $9.7 million.

``There may be good reasons to keep the two agencies separate, but we need to carefully consider the merits of consolidation,'' Dewitt said. ``If we can simplify the regulatory process while increasing efficiency, we should do it.''

Other studies listed by Cargill:

_ Combining the state's many ``seed'' commissions, such as the Peanut Commission, into one ``Oil Seed Commission.''

_ Examining the role of the Department of Mines. One suggestion has been to combine the agency with the Department of Labor.

_ Looking at the operation of the Department of Human Services, particularly the department of aging.

_ Consolidating the Alcohol Beverage Control Board with another agency.
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