A new bill aims to rein in more than 500 state boards and commissions, many which require lawmakers to sit on them

Utah Capitol 16

Need a little leisure reading?

You might try Rep. John Knotwell’s HB387, which is only 3,766 lines long.

Knotwell, R-Herriman, says last fall, after the new leadership elections, Senate President Stuart Adams and Speaker Brad Wilson, asked him to review all the state boards and commissions, with an eye toward getting the number of legislators required by law to sit on a board reduced, and taking lawmakers off of some boards and commissions completely.

There are 380 boards and commissions inside of the executive branch of government, many of which require a legislator to sit on them.

There are an additional 120 boards and commissions that are Legislature-centric, which have the Legislature’s own staff operating the commission, with legislators sitting on them also.

Clearly, all this is out of control.

“We have 29 senators,” said Knotwell. “How can 29 senators split up and sit on 400 boards and commissions?”

Well, of course, they can’t.

And there are 75 House members, and they can’t split up and sit on 400 boards, either.

So, HB387 takes legislators off of many of the current boards and commissions or reduces the number of lawmakers sitting on such entities.

While it’s nice to cut down the number of lawmakers on commissions, that is kind of an after-the-fact action.

How can many of the inactive, or rarely-held, boards and commissions be reduced overall?

And how can lawmakers restrict the creation of new boards and commissions?

That is dealt with in HB387 and its companion resolution, HJR22.

That rule change sets up a process whereby the work intended for a board or commission – like a study – can be switched to a legislative interim committee — thus ending the need for the board or commission itself.

Or a report is issued that shows which board or commission is actually meeting and doing credible work – so if it is idle, or ineffective, the Legislature can repeal it.

And it sets up a process whereby BEFORE a new board or commission is set up by the legislative branch, that created board or commission must go before a current interim committee subcommittee – the subcommittee on licensing.

GOP Gov. Gary Herbert’s office – as has governors before him – have complained for years that there are too many boards and commission that require an appointment by the governor’s office.

It takes full-time staffer just to work on all these appointments. And it’s tough to find someone to sit on many of these boards.

Likewise, by law, the Speaker and President must make hundreds of appointments to boards or commissions they are responsible for – and not just legislators, but private citizens as well.

Again, way too much work for their supposed-part-time jobs.

So, will HB387 and HJR22 dig deep into this problem?

Who knows? But we clearly don’t need a new board or commission to look into it.