Monday, January 30, 2012

Historic Sunset Legislation Passes the Senate.

Courtesy Senate Press Office
Natalie Dale, Director
Shawna Mercer, Sr. Communications Specialist

ATLANTA (January 30, 2012) – The Georgia Senate today passed SB 223 with a vote of 37 to 12, showing tremendous bipartisan support for the measure. Sponsored by William Ligon (R-Waverly), this legislation provides a mechanism for government oversight and accountability.

“During these challenging economic times, it is imperative to streamline government operations and reduce the size and scope of state government,” said Sen. Ligon. “The passage of SB 223 was a step in the right direction toward reducing government waste and ensuring that state government runs efficiently while maximizing every taxpayer dollar.”
SB 223, also known as the Georgia Government Accountability Act, will determine the continued need and existence of state-run programs and agencies. In recent years, several states such as Alabama , Florida , Tennessee and Texas have enacted similar legislation known as Sunset Reviews to evaluate the overall productivity of state agencies and entities.

In 2011, Georgia legislators introduced legislation calling for comparable measures through the creation of a Joint Legislative Sunset Advisory Committee. The committee is to be composed of seven members of the House of Representatives appointed by the Speaker of the House and seven members of the Senate Government Oversight Committee appointed by the President of the Senate. The members must serve two-year terms concurrent with their terms as members of the General Assembly. Co-chairpersons must be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate.

The Committee must consider certain criteria in determining whether a public need exists for the continuation of a state agency or agency function: the efficiency with which the agency operates; the extent to which the jurisdiction of the agency and the programs administered by the agency overlap or duplicate those of other agencies and the extent to which the programs administered by the agency can be consolidated with the programs of other agencies; and the extent to which the agency accurately reports performance measures used to justify state spending on each of its activities, services, and programs.

In addition, the Committee may review all state agencies, including all boards, departments, advisory committees, authorities, bureaus, offices, and any other state entity of the executive branch of state government regardless of its designation. The Committee may also request information and hold hearings to examine the relevance of government priorities and consider ways to help the agency become more efficient.

As part of its functions, the Joint Legislative Sunset Advisory Committee can only recommend legislative action. Abolishment of a state entity can only be issued through a Joint Resolution by the Georgia General Assembly. After this recommendation, the General Assembly will then access whether the laws the agency is responsible for implementing or enforcing have been repealed, revised, or reassigned to another remaining agency.

The passage of SB 223 also enables the Joint Legislative Sunset Advisory Committee to issue recommendations to privatize, consolidate or eliminate a state program or agency.

SB 223 has received overwhelming support from members of the Senate including co-sponsors Sen. Chip Rogers of the 21st, Sen. Judson Hill of the 32nd, Sen. Frank Ginn of the 47th and Sen. John Albers of the 56th. Introduced last year, the bill passed both the House and the Senate, but was held in the Senate Conference Committee due to a House amendment.

Key supporters of SB 223 offered up the following statements:

“Passage of today’s Sunset legislation may be one of the top five most important accomplishments and most historical acts of the Georgia Legislature,” said Sen. Judson Hill. “Many of us have been working to pass this important legislation for years. Now more than ever, we must reduce the size of government to fit our revenues not increase our revenues to fit the size of government. The Sunset Bill is needed to make this principle a reality not only for today but for generations to come.”
“This legislation plays a critical role in promoting government transparency while also examining the way state government does business,” said Sen. John Albers. “The passage of this legislation is a shining example of how efficient government should operate and ensures greater accountability across all areas of government.”
“I applaud the Senate’s decision to pass SB 223, the Georgia Government and Accountability Act,” said Sen. Cecil Staton. “The passage of this bill reflects the Majority Caucus’ bold vision of limited government and ensures that every taxpayer dollar is put to good use.”
To further discuss the importance of this landmark legislation, Senator William Ligon held a press conference today with several supporters of SB 223 including Sen. Judson Hill, Sen. John Albers, Sen. Barry Loudermilk, Sen. Steve Gooch, Sen. Buddy Carter, Sen. Bill Heath and Sen. Chip Rogers.

During the press conference, Sen. William Ligon and Sen. Judson Hill further highlighted the Majority Caucus’ main priorities of creating a more streamlined and efficient state government.

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