EDITORIAL: Cutting board

To get rid of inactive, unneeded government boards, we needed — you guessed it — yet another board.

The Legislature’s Sunset Subcommittee is effectively cleaning out the state government attic, looking for dusty relics of no value that can be put out with the trash. This month, it brought down a few boxes for closer inspection.

As reported last week by the Review-Journal’s Ed Vogel, legislative staff identified 15 inactive boards. Among those with no members are the Commission for Women, created in 1991 to study and recommend legislation related to the changing roles of women in society. It’s supposed to have 10 members and meet at least four times per year. But it last met in 1999.

The Advisory Committee on Sickle Cell Anemia hasn’t met in nearly 20 years after being created in 1989. It’s supposed to work with the state Board of Health and the State Board of Education to develop sickle cell anemia screening and awareness programs. It also has no members.

On Feb. 3, the subcommittee will consider the missions of the sickle cell panel and the Commission for Women, assuming anyone shows up to defend their importance. And in the coming months, the Sunset Subcommittee will hear from 20 other boards and commissions, including some that are active. There are literally hundreds of others.

Last year, the Legislature managed to eliminate two boards. To get rid of more, the subcommittee’s recommendations from this year will require the passage of legislation in 2015.

Plenty of boards are slow drains on state resources, requiring public notice for meetings, public meeting space and some manner of oversight even though their powers — and, often, their advice — are very limited. It’s good that lawmakers are willing to put in the work to clear out some space.

But it won’t do much good if lawmakers turn around and create a dozen more boards and commissions next year. As it is, the Legislature creates several study groups, task forces and advisory panels every session, on top of boards and commissions.

Next year, perhaps lawmakers can resolve to get rid of a bunch of old boards and resist the urge to add new ones.

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