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February 15, 2013

Senate panel approves merger

OKLAHOMA CITY — Two state agencies dealing with alcohol and narcotics that have a total of nearly 200 employees and combined annual budgets of more than $21.5 million would be merged under a pair of proposals approved Thursday by a Senate committee.

The Senate Public Safety Committee approved two measures that would merge the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs with the Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission. Consolidating both agencies into the new Oklahoma Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Enforcement would result in cost savings and consolidate administrative functions, said Sen. Clark Jolley, who sponsored the bill and joint resolution.

The proposed merger is part of a broader push by members of the Republican-controlled legislature to streamline and ultimately reduce the cost of state government. The legislature last year consolidated a handful of state agencies into the newly named Office of Management and Enterprise Services.

The ABLE Commission has about 50 employees, while the OBNDD has more than 140 state workers. Besides a reduction in some of those positions, Jolley said the agencies could merge some of the agencies’ existing locations in Tulsa, Oklahoma City and McAlester.

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