Public participation is the cornerstone of the Sunset process and is welcomed at every step to ensure all Texans can have a say on agencies undergoing Sunset review. During the review, public input gives Sunset staff the broader perspective needed to evaluate governmental agencies and programs. After the review, the Sunset Commission receives public comments on the staff report, including new ideas and recommendations beyond what staff has proposed. The public may participate in the Sunset process in the following ways.
Providing input confidentially to Sunset staff before the report is published.
Sunset staff gathers information from a variety of sources while reviewing an agency and encourages public input in writing, face-to-face meetings, and phone calls. Effective input should clearly lay out issues regarding the agency under review and identify specific problems and solutions for Sunset staff to consider.
The Texas Sunset Act makes confidential all written comments, documents, and other materials shared with Sunset staff before a staff report is published, to help ensure the free flow of information. Sunset staff may directly or indirectly use this information without identifying the source in their analysis and in the staff report.
Giving public feedback directly to the Sunset Commission.
After the Sunset staff report is published, the 12-member Sunset Commission conducts a public hearing to receive feedback on the staff’s recommendations and the agency under review. The public may provide feedback in writing before the hearing or in written or spoken testimony at the hearing. Sunset staff cannot assist the public in preparing comments or recommendations for the Sunset Commission’s consideration.
To be most effective, comments should be short and to the point and clearly indicate support, opposition, or changes to the staff’s recommendations.The public also may identify problems or present new recommendations that were not in the staff report.Sunset Commission members receive all written comments submitted by the public before they make decisions on statutory and management recommendations about the agency under review. Any statutory recommendations approved by the Sunset Commission must be adopted by the Legislature to become law.
After the staff report is published, written comments submitted to the Sunset Commission typically are not considered to be confidential and are posted on Sunset’s public website, except for materials protected from public disclosure by federal or state law.
Participating in the legislative process.
Generally, the Legislature must pass a bill to continue an agency under Sunset review and adopt some or all of the Sunset Commission’s recommendations for statutory change. The Legislature also may make other changes to the agency in the Sunset bill. The public can participate in the legislative process on Sunset bills in the same way as any other legislation, by attending committee hearings in the Senate and House and contacting legislators who vote on the bills.
Involvement in Individual Cases
The Sunset Commission does not get involved or intervene in individual complaints, grievances, or administrative or legal cases. Sunset is not an ombudsman’s office or an avenue for appeals and cannot influence or override an agency’s decisions. Written or spoken testimony about individual cases or appeals generally is not allowed at Sunset public hearings.
Accommodations for People With Disabilities at Sunset Commission Meetings
For the Sunset process to reach its full potential, the public must be able to fully and equally participate in every phase of the Sunset review. If you have special needs or wish to request an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodation, please contact the Sunset ADA Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (512) 463-1300. Individuals with a hearing impairment may call 1-800-735-2989 for an operator's assistance in contacting the Sunset office.