The Texas Sunset Advisory Commission began in 1977 as a process to streamline state government. The operative number for Sunset is 12:
- 12 members
- Reviews each state agency every 12 years
The members of Sunset change with each session. Of course, they can’t review every agency each session, so there is a scheduled rotation for reviews. This is how Sunset can directly affect you and your family struggling for mental wellness for your children in Texas:
- Sunset announces agencies to be reviewed.
- Each agency to be reviewed submits a self report
- The Sunset staff conduct thorough review and investigation into the agency, including the claims of the self report and confidential comments submitted by the public to the Sunset staff in response to the self report.
- The Sunset staff develop a report of recommendation on ways to streamline and improve the agency to the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission, which can included anything from changes to the agencies processes, up to and including dissolving the agency altogether.
- The public again has a chance to respond, though responses from this point forward are a matter of public record. The agency itself also responds. You can check out the archives, including how people have responded in the past, here: https://www.sunset.texas.gov/review-cycles
- The Texas Sunset Advisory Commission hears public testimony on the findings and recommendations of the staff report.
- The Texas Sunset Advisory Commission then makes final decisions on the findings of the Sunset staff, as well as consideration of public testimony, by votes of the Commission members in a public meeting.
- The final elected recommendations of the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission are drafted into a bill and filed for consideration by the Texas Legislature.
- The Texas Senate and Texas House of Representatives conduct committee hearings and debate the bill. (This is why it’s good to know who your state Senator and Representatives are, and if they are on the committees that will debate the Sunset bill.)
- Bill passes or fails, and is then presented to the Governor for signature, veto, or pass through (can become law without signature).
There are many steps in the Sunset review process in which a member of the public may have a voice and provide input on the ways the agency to be reviewed impacts our daily lives. Many of these reviews impact the lives of children and families struggling for mental wellness, because our children are impacted by multiple systems on their journey. It is our civil duty and responsibility to tell those making these decisions when the ones that have been proposed to not honor our children, families and the struggles we face every day.
In preparation for the 84th Legislative Session, the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission took on it’s largest review in history, reviewing 20 agencies. Some of those reviews were actually follow up from the previous session, however the however the most significant part of this seasons reviews were those of the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), as well as all of the agencies under HHSC. Here is a full list of links to the 20 reviews conducted in preparation for the 84th Legislative Session:
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Disclaimer: I am just a mom. Views expressed are only my observations as a mom, and are not in any way intended to be professional clinical advice. If you or someone you love is in crisis, please contact their healthcare provider, go to the emergency room, or call 911.