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‘Sunset’ committee considers future of inactive legislative boards

CARSON CITY — The Commission for Women. The Advisory Committee on Sickle Cell Anemia. The Advisory Committee on Participatory Democracy.

These state boards sure sound important. Serving on them might be a good addition to anyone’s resume. So why haven’t they been meeting?

That’s what members of the Legislature’s Sunset Subcommittee want to know. They decided Monday to call leaders of these other boards — if they can find them — to their next meeting on Feb. 3 to answer that and other questions.

The sickle cell board has not met since 1995 and the Commission on Women last met in 1999, legislative staffers told members of the subcommittee.

The Advisory Committee on Participatory Democracy, created by law in 1997, may never have met, according to a report developed by the legislative staff.

But the secretary of state’s office, which oversees the committee, still had information posted on its website Monday, including what the panel does.

“It may be temporarily inactive now, but will be resurrected this fall before the election,” said Secretary of State Ross Miller on Tuesday.

The subcommittee was directed by the Legislature to review state boards and commissions, determine what they have been doing, find out when they have been meeting and recommend their repeal if they are no longer needed.

During the 2013 legislative session, just two boards — neither of which had met for many years — were repealed based on the subcommittee’s recommendations. That’s out of several hundred state-authorized boards and commissions.

In preparation for this week’s meeting, legislative staff found 15 boards that have been inactive, including several — such as the Advisory Committee Concerning the Children’s Health Program — that apparently have no members.

The Commission for Women was created by a law passed in 1991. The 10-member commission was directed to meet at least four times a year. The law directed the commission to study the changing and developing roles of women in society, including socioeconomic factors that influence the status of women, and recommend legislation.

The sickle cell advisory board was created by a 1989 law. Its members were to work with the state Board of Health and the state Board of Education to develop sickle cell anemia screening and awareness programs.

The 10-member Advisory Committee on Participatory Democracy was created to propose ways to increase citizen participation in government, establish an annual Jean Ford Democracy Award and work to increase voter participation.

This Ford award, named after a former legislator, honors Nevada residents for their leadership in furthering democratic principles. Eight winners were selected last year, including David Byerman, secretary of the state Senate, according to the secretary of state’s office.

Miller said the committee assists him in nonpartisan get-out-the-vote campaigns and other matters.

“The members are all volunteers,” said Miller, who added that the secretary of state could name a board to perform these duties even in the law establishing the organization were repealed.

The subcommittee also decided in coming months to call in leaders of 20 other state boards and commissions, including some that are very active — such as the Commission on Homeland Security, the Equal Rights Commission, the Employment Security Council and the Commission on Nuclear Projects.

Individual members of the subcommittee were authorized by Chairwoman Irene Bustamante Adams, D-Las Vegas, to select any boards or commissions they want to call in to answer questions and review their work.

No board or commission can be abolished without passage of enabling legislation at the Legislature in 2015.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com, call 775-687-3901. Follow him on Twitter @edison vogel.

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