April 25, 2018
I’m not sure what it says about me that throughout my time in the Texas Senate, I coveted a spot on the Texas Sunset Commission. It looked like a lot of fun — in a wonky, good-government sense.
So I was pretty excited two years ago when I was appointed to a four-year term on the Sunset Commission. I learned there was a river authority in Texas that didn’t actually have authority over a river. I discovered that chiropractors get a little touchy when they’re not allowed to do acupuncture. And I watched almost an entire board just quit when their sort of pitiful work was highlighted, confirming that they weren’t very professional to begin with.
See? Fun stuff.
Why do it?
The Sunset process is about the nuts and bolts of our state government. Not always sexy and not always great fodder for an exciting Watson Wire. But it’s very important.
“Sunset works by setting a date on which an agency is abolished unless the Legislature passes a bill to continue it. Sunset staff evaluates the agency and issues recommendations for positive change. The Commission considers the recommendations, hears public testimony, and decides on a package of changes to bring to the full Legislature.”
The detailed and lengthy review allows us to slow down and look at the day-to-day issues that are really important to how an agency serves Texans but might not rise above the fray during a frenetic legislative session.
Many of the agencies under Sunset review this time touch the lives of a lot of Texans, such as the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Motor Vehicles. And folks in Austin might want to keep an eye on the review of the Lower Colorado River Authority since it plays a huge role in our drinking water supply, flood control and the Highland Lakes.
If one of these agencies handles an issue you care about, I’d highly recommend you take the time to look into the Sunset reports and share your thoughts. There are a lot of opportunities for members of the public to get involved in these discussions by sending in comments or testifying at the hearings, and we want to hear from you.