Texas has more than 150 state agencies — everything from the Affordable Housing Corporation to the Workforce Commission. Do these agencies provide too much oversight and bureaucracy? That’s what the Sunset Commission is tasked with finding out. A group of lawmakers from the Texas House and Senate, along with two members of the public, do periodic reviews to make sure state agencies are needed and that they’re operating as they should.
The work they do doesn’t usually get a lot of attention, unless an agency is on the chopping block. Now it appears a handful of agencies could dissolve, even though that’s not what the commission wants.
Representative Dan Flynn, a Republican member of the House from Van, a town east of Dallas, sits on the Sunset Commission. Flynn and other members of the commission review 15 to 20 agencies every 12 years and send bills to the Texas House floor, reflecting their recommendations to update or discontinue the agency. The commission’s job is to evaluate whether some should be combined or cut altogether using input from the public, legislators and the agencies themselves. Flynn describes the process as “grueling.”
But this session, decisions the commission had made on the fate of the agencies hit a snag when the recommendations moved to the legislative floor. One of those sidetracked bills involves the Texas Medical Board, which Flynn says performs an important function. But he’s not too concerned about the agency’s future.
“There’s kind of a safety net there,” Flynn said. “They’re not going to lock the doors tomorrow.”
Holding a special session of the Legislature to revisit the stalled bills doesn’t interest Flynn, who said he’d be surprised if the medical board’s bill would even prompt further legislation.
The function of the Texas Medical Board is to license doctors and to protect the health and safety of Texans.
“This is a fight that has nothing to do with the physicians or the Texas Medical Board,” Texas Medical Association President Carlos Cardenas said. “And everyone at the Capitol knows that.”
Written Louise Rodriguez.