The Sunset Act
Chapter 325, Government Code, also known as the Texas Sunset Act, contain the key laws governing the Sunset process.
Sunset staff uses specific criteria set by the Legislature within the Sunset Act to evaluate each of the programs and functions of a state agency or other entity placed under Sunset review. In 2013, the Legislature added additional criteria specific to occupational licensing agencies. The Sunset Review Questions summarizes these criteria.
Related Statutory Provisions
Several state statutes have provisions relating to the Texas Sunset Act or the Sunset Commission. These provisions are briefly described below.
§ 321.013 Requires the state auditor to recommend to the Legislative Audit Committee an annual audit plan, taking into consideration any recommendations made jointly by representatives of the Sunset Commission, the Legislative Budget Board, and the State Auditor’s Office.
§ 321.0134 Prohibits the state auditor from scheduling an effectiveness audit of an agency that is undergoing Sunset review.
§ 322.0175 Requires the Legislative Budget Board to conduct a strategic fiscal review of most agencies when they are under Sunset review. River authorities and agencies that do not receive legislative appropriations are exempt.
§ 326.003 Requires the Sunset Commission, the Legislative Budget Board and the State Auditor’s Office to form a committee that makes recommendations for coordinating the agencies’ oversight functions.
§ 2056.010 Requires the Sunset Commission, the state auditor, the Legislative Budget Board, and other agencies that conduct performance audits to consider the degree to which an agency under review conforms to its strategic plan.
Natural Resources Code
§ 31.156 Requires the General Land Office to review an agency’s real property inventory during the calendar year before the agency is scheduled for abolition under the Texas Sunset Act.
Sunset Commission Rules
The Sunset Commission has adopted the following rules governing meeting procedures and other matters.
Rule 1. Presiding Officers
The commission shall have, as presiding officers, a chairman and a vice chairman. The chairmanship and vice chairmanship must alternate between the two membership groups appointed by the lieutenant governor and the speaker of the House. The chairman may designate a member of the commission to preside at a meeting of the commission in the absence of the chairman and vice chairman. The chairman’s designee shall preside at the will of the chairman and shall preside only in the absence of the chairman and vice chairman.
Rule 2. Meetings: Time, Place and Notice
(a) The commission shall meet at the call of the chairman at times and places determined by the chairman after consultation with the vice chairman.
(b) The chairman shall have notice of each meeting posted as required by Section 551.041 of the Government Code, the “Open Meetings Act.”
Rule 3. Quorum
(a) A quorum shall consist of at least seven members of the commission.
(b) A quorum is not necessary for the taking of testimony or for work sessions, provided that not less than four members of the commission are present for these purposes.
Rule 4. Subpoena Power and Oaths
(a) The chairman, or in the absence of the chairman, the chairman’s designee, shall issue a subpoena, in the name of the commission, when a majority of the commission so directs.
(b) Any member of the commission may administer an oath to a witness who appears before the commission.
Rule 5. Record of Meetings
(a) The chairman shall ensure that accurate minutes are kept of each meeting and shall have each meeting recorded. The minutes of a meeting are subject to approval and correction by the commission at the next meeting.
(b) The chairman shall ensure that a record is maintained of the name and contact information of each witness who appears before the commission, and of the name and contact information of each individual, corporation, or association the witness represents.
Rule 6. Committees
(a) The chairman may appoint committees, as necessary, to consider or study subjects referred to them by the chairman, and may appoint the chairman of each committee.
(b) A committee shall report to the commission as instructed by the chairman.
(c) The meetings of a committee shall be posted in the same manner required of the commission. A majority of a committee constitutes a quorum. A quorum is not necessary for the taking of public testimony.
Rule 7. Decisions
(a) A final action or recommendation of the commission shall require a record vote of a majority of members appointed by the lieutenant governor and the speaker of the House.
(b) A decision of the commission to exempt an inactive agency from the reporting, hearing, and evaluation requirements of the Texas Sunset Act shall require an affirmative record vote of a majority of all members of the commission present and voting.
(c) Any other decision of the commission not covered under Rule 7(a) and Rule 7(b) require a vote of a majority of all members of the commission present and voting.
(d) A member of the commission who dissents from the adoption of the report, required by Section 325.010 of the Texas Sunset Act, is entitled to have a dissenting statement included in the report.
Rule 8. Procedures
Meetings of the commission or its committees shall be conducted according to accepted parliamentary procedures.
Rule 9. Amendments to Rules
(a) These rules may be amended after notice of a proposed amendment is placed on the agenda for a meeting of the commission. The proposed amendment may be adopted at the meeting by a vote of a majority of all members of the commission present and voting.
(b) The chairman shall place a notice of a proposed amendment of these rules on the agenda for a meeting of the commission when requested in writing by a member of the commission, provided the request is received before the posting deadline for the meeting.