Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Hegar to be new Chair of Sunset Advisory Commission

Lt. Governor Appoints Hegar Chair Of Sunset Advisory Commission


by John Pape
Copyright 2009

Lt. Governor David Dewhurst today appointed State Sen. Glenn Hegar (R-Katy) as Chairman of the state’s powerful Sunset Advisory Commission.

As chairman, Hegar will lead the commission in its task of eliminating wasteful government spending and ending inefficient practices.

The committee’s ultimate goal is to develop an improved set of government agencies, which save taxpayers money and remain responsive to residents.

Hegar previously served as vice-chair of the commission. That appointment made Texas history, marking the first time that a freshman member of the Texas Legislature was appointed to a leadership position of the powerful board.

During his tenure as vice-chair, Hegar championed reforms to modernize state agencies and sponsored legislation to reduce bureaucracy. He also supported efforts to abolish the controversial Texas Residential Construction Commission and fought tirelessly against the Trans-Texas Corridor.

In making the announcement of Hegar’s appointment, Dewhurst cited the senator’s work as vice-chair.

“I am confident that Sen. Hegar will provide strong leadership on the Sunset Advisory Commission,” Dewhurst said. “His tireless efforts and in-depth analysis of the issues will once again be an asset as the commission undertakes the review of some of our most important state agencies.”

Hegar said he was “honored” to be appointed and was looking forward to continuing to serve on the commission.

“The Sunset Advisory Commission is one of the most important and powerful bodies on which a Texas Legislator can serve. The review of state agencies helps to ensure that our tax dollars are not wasted by duplicative efforts or inefficiency,” Hegar said. “As chairman, I pledge to expand upon the progress the commission has made so far. And, more importantly, I pledge my wholehearted dedication to the commission’s mission of serving Texans and ensuring government accountability.”

The Sunset Advisory Commission conducts thorough reviews of nearly all state agencies, gathering information from the agency itself, members of the public, interest groups and professional organizations. Each review is a three- to eight-month process.

After conducting the review, the Sunset Advisory Commission determines whether the agency is needed; those that are found to be duplicative or no longer needed are abolished after a one year “wind-down” period.

More typically, a final report is issued detailing recommended changes to the agency. The report is then used to develop legislation to implement the recommended changes in how the agency performs its mission.

During a typical legislative session, 20 to 30 state agencies are reviewed; most agencies are reviewed on a twelve-year cycle. The next legislative session will be a particularly important one for the Sunset Advisory Commission, as the Texas Public Utility Commission, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the Texas Railroad Commission, the Texas Department of Transportation, as well as the Texas Department of Insurance and the Division of Workers’ Compensation are all set for sunset review.

The commission consists of twelve members. Six – five senators and one public member – are selected by the Lieutenant Governor. Six others – five state representatives and one public member – are picked by the Speaker of the House.

In addition to Hegar, the Sunset Advisory Commission membership consists of Senators Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen), Joan Huffman (R-Houston), Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville), and John Whitmire (D-Houston), as well as public member Charles McMahen.

The Speaker of the House is scheduled to appoint members from the House of Representatives in the near future.

The Sunset Advisory Commission is estimated to have saved the state more than $736 million from 1982 to 2003.

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