by T.W. Budig, ECM Capitol reporter
Bills creating a “sunset” commission empowered to review whether state government agencies deserve to further exist advanced today (Tuesday, Feb. 8) in the House.
Rep. Joyce Peppin, R-Rogers, saw her bill laid-over for possible inclusion into a bigger bill in the House state government finance committee.
Peppin’s sunset commission bill, unlike one sponsored by Rep. King Banaian, R-St. Cloud, would create an independent, 12-member commission appointed by the governor and legislative leaders.
Lawmakers would be barred from serving on the commission.
Placing lawmakers on the commission, Peppin argued, would invite bias — “cloud” thinking — because often lawmakers know the people serving in state government. “I would like an independent body that’s not so close to the process,” said Peppin.
Peppin’s legislation specifies how the commission — Peppin proposes to initially fund the commission $200,000 — is to review, gather information, hold public hearings on state government agencies.
It’s to determine whether a given body has outlived its usefulness.
Should the commission sunset an agency, commission, or other government body, the Legislature would need to step in to prevent sunsetting.
Peppin bill gains favorable comment
Peppin’s bill gained favorable comment from fellow Republicans on the committee. Rep. Keith Downey, R-Edina, said it is useful for state agencies to self-scan themselves.
In general, state agencies are hesitant in challenging the statutes that have created them, he said.
But Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, argued that there are plenty of ideas already about government reform. Finding them is not the challenge, he explained.
The challenge is for lawmakers to have the political will to pursue the reforms, he said.
Banaian says “buy-in” needed
In explaining his sunset commission bill, Banaian argued for the commission to succeed it would require “buy-in” from the Legislature.
Placing lawmakers on the commission could provide this buy-in, he argued.
Committee Chairman Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, called the sunset commission an “important idea.”
Peppin’s bill was placed for possible inclusion into a larger committee bill, while Banaian’s more extensive legislation was passed and referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.
Peppin drew ideas for her sunset bill from a sunset commission at work in the State of Texas.