Every Legislative Session we hear about Sunset Review’s. But what are they and what do they mean for Texas? And what do they mean for you? If you live and breathe in Texas then a Sunset Review will affect you.
A Sunset Review is performed on the each of the 150 plus government agencies in Texas every 12 years, with staggered review dates. The review takes an in-depth look at the agencies policies and programs and analyzes their efficiencies. This process is meant to reduce any duplication of efforts that are occurring among the various agencies and eliminate the inefficiencies of that agency. A Sunset Review is performed by the Sunset Advisory Commission (SAC). The Sunset Advisory Commission reviews an agency and will then seek out public input through hearings. This input will be considered during the course of their review. After they have reviewed all of their findings, a report is submitted to the full Legislature. The Legislature must then determine if the agency should continue to exist, undergo systemic changes, or be abolished. The key to how this system is organized is that a due date has been automatically set for each agency to be abolished. The public and the Legislature are required to act if the agency is to continue to exist. Oftentimes, the Sunset Review date will be extended by the Legislature. This allows the agency to remain open even though it has not been reviewed. Larger agencies will often be delayed until a later date when the Sunset Review Commission can devote an extended amount of time and effort to complete a thorough review. Such has been the case with the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).
During the 82nd Legislative Session Senate Bill 652 was passed which allowed for the review date for DSHS to be postponed until the interim of the 83rd Session, occurring in 2013 and 2014. The Sunset Review Commission anticipates that the DSHS review will take a substantial amount of time and effort. This is also a review that many mental health advocates have been tracking carefully since one of the main departments of DSHS is mental health and substance abuse. What comes out of the DSHS review will affect every aspect of Mental Health in Texas so it will be crucial for advocates to voice their concerns during the period for public comment. This timeframe will be posted on the DSHS website and will also be announced on the NAMI Texas Public Policy Blog found here: https://namitexaspolicy.wordpress.com.
If you want to learn more about the Sunset Review process in Texas you can go to the Sunset Advisory Commission web page found here: http://www.sunset.state.tx.us/