SUNSET COMMISSION ISSUES FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS
|Flower Mound Senator Jane Nelson is Chair of the Sunset Advisory Commission.|
(Austin) — The Sunset Advisory Commission of Texas completed its interim duties Wednesday, issuing recommendations for the reform of a score of state agencies. The Commission, comprised of five members from each legislative chamber and two public members, is charged with the periodic review of state agencies and with proposing changes to make these bodies more efficient and effective. Commission chair Senator Jane Nelson of Flower Mound told members that this interim's efforts would lead to the elimination of eight agencies, five boards and commissions, 45 advisory councils, deregulate ten professional licensing processes and could save the state a projected $500 million over the next five years. "I would say taxpayers are getting their money's worth out of the Sunset process," she said.
This interim the commission looked at 20 agencies, one of the largest of which was the Health and Human Services Commission, which would get the most significant reorganization under Sunset recommendations. The Commission approved a plan late last year to integrate four major social service agencies under the umbrella of the HHSC. These are the Department of Aging and Disability Services, the Department of State Health Services, the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services and the Department of Family and Protective Services. Nelson also said that she will introduce legislation in this session to strengthen state oversight over the contracting process at health and human services agencies.
The Commission also approved specific recommendations dealing with one of the agencies in the consolidation proposal, the Department of Family and Protective Services, which is responsible for protecting children and the elderly from cases of abuse or neglect. The recommendations approved Wednesday dealt with the Child Protective Services Division and are aimed at streamlining agency operations and making it easier for case workers to concentrate on critical matters. Some of the Commission recommendations included repealing state statutes that conflict with federal law, improving data collection, and getting rid of burdensome paperwork requirements.
As its final piece of business, the Sunset Commission took a vote to submit their recommendations for all agencies reviewed over the past two years to the entire Legislature. These recommendations will be consolidated into individual bills for each agency and will go through the legislative process in both chambers.
The Senate will reconvene Thursday, January 15 at 1 p.m.