Sunset Staff Reports Released

Sunset staff reports for the Department of Information Resources, Texas Lottery Commission, and Sabine River Authority of Texas are now available.

Across-the-Board Policies

1.  Public Membership on State Agency Boards

While state agencies are designed to protect the health, welfare, and safety of the public, some agencies have governing boards with membership only from the regulated industry or groups affected by the activities of the agency. These boards may be more responsive to public interests with a direct public voice on the board. To ensure appropriate representation, this ATB requires that as close as possible to one-third of the board members represent the general public.

2.  Prohibitions on Agency Conflicts of Interest

State agencies may have ties with professional trade organizations and other groups that may not be in the public interest. Conflicts of interest can also result when an agency’s board members or general counsel are involved in lobbying. This ATB reduces the possibility of such conflicts.

3.  Governor Designation of State Agency Board Chairs

This ATB requires the Governor to designate the presiding officer as a means of increasing the agency’s accountability to the State’s leadership.

4.  Specific Grounds for Removal of Agency Board Members

This ATB specifies the reasons for which a member of the policymaking body may be removed. To prevent questions on the validity of actions taken by boards, the provision clarifies that if grounds for removal exist, actions taken by the board are still valid.

5.  Board Member Training

Members of policymaking bodies should be provided with adequate information and training to allow them to properly discharge their duties. This provision requires agencies to provide training, establishes the type of training and information to be included, and requires board members to receive and review training information annually.

6.  Separation of Agency Board and Staff Functions

State agencies have difficulties when their policymaking bodies also administer the agency. This recommendation requires each policymaking body to clearly separate its functions from those of agency management.

7.  Public Testimony at Board Meetings

This requirement ensures the opportunity for public input to the policymaking body on issues under its jurisdiction.

8.  Information on Complaints

Sunset reviews have found that some agencies do not maintain complete information on complaints. Inadequate information slows the resolution of complaints and limits the agency’s ability to protect the public. This ATB requires agencies to maintain files on complaints and make information on complaint procedures available to the public. The ATB also specifies agencies may not inform parties of the status of complaints if doing so would jeopardize an ongoing investigation.