State Review Committee recommends changes to environmental boards and commissions
on Friday, September 1, 2023
On Tuesday, the Governor’s Boards and Commissions Review Committee met to review recommendations for changes, consolidation, or elimination of numerous state boards or commissions. The committee was established by the Governor’s 1,600-page state government reorganization bill, which passed during the last legislative session. Earlier this year, the Governor reorganized state government by reducing cabinet agencies from 37 to 16.
Very few details of the Review Committee’s discussion were provided, other than the announcement of the recommendations and a call for public input ahead of a public hearing only a week later on September 6. The recommendations seek to eliminate and/or consolidate 116 of the state’s 256 boards and commissions down to 140.
IEC has identified boards and commissions related to environmental programs and regulation that are being recommended for elimination, consolidation, or other changes:
In most cases, the duties of an eliminated board or commission would be passed to the state agency it is located within. The commissions and the committees facing reorganization or other changes could see changes to the makeup, rulemaking, policymaking, and/or budget authority of the entity. Many questions remain and IEC is working with our coalition and our advocacy partners to learn more and provide comments.
However, we do know many of these boards and commissions were created to provide public and stakeholder input on government actions and priorities. Some of these boards and commissions provide important oversight. If they are not given the tools or stature to be effective in performing these important duties, those issues should be remedied first.
IEC has a seat on the Watershed Planning Advisory Council (WPAC), one of the groups the governor’s committee proposed to eliminate. WPAC gives the public a voice by providing input and recommendations to lawmakers on water quality issues and policy. In recent years, the recommendations from WPAC have gone unanswered by state agencies and lawmakers. Its recommendations are not seriously considered by lawmakers or the agencies that have the ability to act on them. The council serves a worthy function, but not if its influence and relationship with decision-makers is undervalued.
The next step is for the committee to hear public input on the recommendations. The Boards and Commissions Review Committee will meet in Room 103 of the State Capitol (Old Supreme Court Chamber) on Wednesday, September 6, 2023, at 12:00 p.m. There are only 50 speaking slots at the public hearing, so sign up as soon as possible by emailing BCRCcomments@iowa.gov if you want to make comments. Include your name and the organization you are representing if applicable. Each speaker will be given 2 minutes. Members of the public and interested stakeholders can also submit comments on the Committee’s preliminary recommendations by sending an email to BCRCcomments@iowa.gov.
Following the public hearing, the Committee will meet again on a yet to be announced date prior to finalizing their recommendations and submitting a report to the Governor and State Legislature by September 30. The final report will likely lead to a comprehensive piece of legislation during the 2024 legislative session, where it will then be up to lawmakers to decide whether to act on the recommendations.
- iowa legislature