Huber's Government Steamlining Bills Move Forward in Assembly

Next step is through appropriations committee Legislation introduced by Assembly Member Alyson Huber to identify and eliminate waste,...

Next step is through appropriations committee

Legislation introduced by Assembly Member Alyson Huber to identify and eliminate waste, duplication, and inefficiency in government agencies moved one step closer to becoming law today. AB 1659 and AB 2130 passed out of the Assembly Committee on Business, Professions and Consumer Protection with bipartisan support.

“Legislators create new boards, commissions, agencies and departments to solve a problem and then no one looks back and asks whether the new bureaucracy actually solved the problem it was created to solve or whether the problem is worse,” Huber said during testimony. “We can fix this systemic problem by conducting comprehensive, regular reviews of state government to ensure taxpayers that their money is being used wisely.

Huber was joined at the hearing by Michael Shaw, Legislative Director of the National Federation of Independent Business, in support of the bill.

“AB 1659 and AB 2130 create a long-term review process that promotes accountability and consistency by establishing routine reviews of existing boards and commissions that focus on determining whether or not they are still necessary,” Shaw said. “Through this improved public process we hope California will become a better place to start and grow businesses that keep our state prosperous.”

AB 1659 would take existing legislative resources and re-direct them to the Joint Sunset Review Committee which would conduct a comprehensive analysis of state government agencies to determine if the agency is still necessary, should be reorganized or is cost effective. In order to compel action on recommendations, it is the intent that automatic sunset dates would be established for entities scheduled for review.

Prior to the committee’s recommendation each agency scheduled for sunset would be required to submit a report to the committee. Then, the committee would take public testimony and evaluate the agency prior to the agency’s scheduled sunset.

AB 2130 serves as starting point to define which government entities will be subject to the Committee established by AB 1659 and sets the sunset timetable for the first years of reviews.

In 1989, the Little Hoover Commission issued a report, entitled Boards and Commissions: California's Hidden Government, which found that, “California's multi-level, complex governmental structure today includes more than 400 boards, commissions, authorities, associations, councils and committees. These plural bodies operate to a large degree autonomously and outside of the normal checks and balances of representative government.”

The Commission concluded that “the state's boards, commissions and similar bodies are proliferating without adequate evaluation of need, effectiveness and efficiency.”

Numerous other states have a sunset review function. Texas, for example, created its Sunset Advisory Commission in 1978. Since the Commission’s inception 58 agencies have been abolished and another 12 agencies have been consolidated saving $27 for each dollar spent on the Commission. Total savings achieved by the Commission equals roughly 5% of the state's budget.

Despite the explosion in California’s bureaucracy no system has been instituted to comprehensively evaluate their effectiveness and necessity. AB 1659 addresses the need for a system of review.

The bills will be heard in Assembly Committee on Appropriations next.

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