Under a bill passed by the state Senate Tuesday, a nine-member board would take charge of oversight of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
Bill sponsor Sen. Julie Denton told the chamber the board would provide steadier leadership for a sometimes unwieldy agency. Among the board’s responsibilities: selecting nominees for the secretary of the cabinet position.
"With 20 percent of the budget going to [the] Health and Family Services Cabinet and with the issues being so grave and so important to people in their daily lives, I think it's important that we have someone that can have continuity and that we're able to find someone through a national search, bring somebody in who has the capability of putting their arms around this cabinet," Denton said.
Senate Minority Leader R.J. Palmer objected to the measure, arguing that it places too much authority in an unelected board rather than the governor.
"While I think this may be a worthy discussion, the result we have before us in Senate Bill 82 is something that simply tries to micro-manage the executive branch," Palmer argued.
The bill passed the Senate 23-to-15 and now heads to the House, where similar legislation has been defeated in previous sessions.