Georgia Senate Passes “Accountability Act” to examine, sunset state agencies

Yesterday, our state Senate passed SB 223, the Georgia Government Accountability Act, sponsored by Senators William Ligon (R-Waverly), Chip Rogers, Judson Hill, Frank Ginn, and John Albers. The act creates a Joint Legislative Sunset Advisory Committee that includes seven members of the House appointed by the Speaker of the House and seven members of the Senate Government Oversight Committee appointed by the President of the Senate. The Speaker and the President of the Senate appoint co-chairs.

The Legislative Sunset Advisory Committee will review all boards, departments, advisory committees, authorities, and other executive branch entities and establish a schedule for routinely reviewing state agencies.

Agencies that are not created by the Constitution are subject to automatic termination one year after a Committee decision to end the agency.

Any agency that has not held an open public meeting for more than twelve months will be automatically terminated.

In reviewing agencies, the Committee will consider the agency’s efficiency, whether its statutory objectives have been achieved or continue to exist, alternatives means of achieving the statutory objectives, the amount of overlap with other governmental entities, and the possible loss of federal funds, among other factors.

While I am generally supportive of pruning government agencies and regulations that have outlived their usefulness, I have several concerns with this legislation.

First is that while it seeks to make government smaller, it will result in a larger legislature. Or at least a significant extension of the work of fourteen members of the General Assembly.

Second is my concern that this bill may intrude into the executive functions properly exercised by the Governor and other Constitutional officers.

Finally, this bill appears to attempt to require actions by future legislatures, violating the principle of western legal systems since at least 65 BC, that no legislature can bind a future legislature.

8 comments

  1. “Finally, this bill appears to attempt to require actions by future legislatures, violating the principle of western legal systems since at least 65 BC, that no legislature can bind a future legislature.”

    Citation needed. Sometimes, I think you just make this stuff up.

  2. Todd Rehm says:

    See, e.g., Cicero’s Letters to Atticus, 65 BCE; Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Law of England (1765); Newton v. Commissioners – 100 U.S. 548 (1879)

  3. I wasn’t talking about Cicero. I meant where in this bill is some binding measure on future legislatures that’s not as binding on future legislatures as any other change to any other law? It may be there, I just don’t see it.

  4. saltycracker says:

    “Finally, this bill appears to attempt to require actions by future legislatures, violating the principle of western legal systems since at least 65 BC, that no legislature can bind a future legislature.”

    Caught my eye too….

    Isn’t the reverse true as sunset laws avoid binding future legislatures ?

    It is a slippery slope and we must ere on the side of consistency which is required by a stable society.

    • saltycracker says:

      if spelling was important PP would use spillcheck (sic)
      darn e is rite ‘side that r thingy on these little keys

  5. Todd Rehm says:

    Read together the following:

    §50-4-23. 92 (a) Not later than six months prior to the date on which a state agency is scheduled to be reviewed, the agency shall provide the Legislative Sunset Advisory Committee with a report outlining the agency’s efficiency and productivity and the extent to which the agency 95 utilizes state resources to best meet the needs of the public.

    and

    §50-4-24. 144 (a) Not later than six months following receipt of the agency’s report required by Code Section 50-4-23, the Legislative Sunset Advisory Committee shall complete its review of the agency.

    And it reads “no more than twelve months from the effective date of the legislation (July 1, 2011), a joint committee of the general assembly SHALL…”

    http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/20112012/119350.pdf

    This sets up a requirement that a joint committee of the General Assembly take some action at a date beyond the end of the current term of the General Assembly, and after elections for the new General Assembly.

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