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Sunset Commission Reports
Article By: by Texas State Rep. Larry Phillips
Posted: 12/21/2012 Views: 2536  Impressions: 9660
Categories: Politics

The state has various agencies that carry out the daily functions of state government, such as the Texas Education Agency, Texas Department of Transportation, and the Texas Workforce Commission. The Sunset Commission provides the legislature with a regular assessment of the continuing need for a state agency to exist. While standard legislative oversight is concerned with agency compliance with legislative policy, Sunset asks a more basic question: "Do the agency's functions continue to be needed?" The Sunset Commission is comprised of 12 members appointed by the Lt. Governor and the Speaker of the House, and its goal is to make the government smaller, smarter, and more efficient.
Agencies come up for review before the legislature at least every twelve years; the reviews are staggered, so that an average of 25 agencies come up for review in any given legislative session. During the interim, the Sunset Commission compiles reports on the agencies scheduled to be reviewed in the upcoming session. The sunset process sets a date for an agency to be abolished unless legislation is passed allowing the agency's continuation. Most agencies are not abolished, but rather undergo changes to their operations and goals. The Sunset Commission is an important tool for legislators by enabling them to look in-depth at the way government agencies are performing and by providing the opportunity for change.
By ensuring a regular review of agencies, the sunset commission is able to weed out antiquated and unnecessary agencies and policies. Also, because the reviews are so extensive, the possibility of a review by the commission usually spurs the agency to improve its overall performance.
This session there are 24 agencies up for review, including the Texas Commission on the Arts, the Texas Board and Department of Criminal Justice, the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Board of Professional Engineers, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the Texas Lottery Commission, the Board of Pardons and Paroles, the Public Utility Commission of Texas, and the Railroad Commission of Texas. The Commission has held hearings throughout the interim relating to these various state agencies, and are now beginning to issue their reports to the legislature. Citizens interested in reviewing the Sunset Commission's reports to the legislature may find them through the Sunset Commission's website,
You can contact my office by writing to P.O. Box 2910, Austin, TX 78768-2910 or by emailing me at My district office phone number is (903) 891-7297.

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