Senate Bill No. 494

(By Senators Yoder, Manchin, Dugan, Dittmar, Schoonover and Grubb)


[Introduced February 20, 1995; referred to the Committee
on Government Organization; and then to the Committee on Finance.]

A BILL to amend chapter five-a of the code of West Virginia, one
thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, by adding thereto a new article, designated article four-a, relating to the "commission on government cost and performance"; definitions; creation of the commission; composition and appointment of the commission; the commission's duties, which include studying ways to reduce governmental bureaucracy and the burdens placed upon business by government; and making appropriate recommendations to the Legislature and the governor.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That chapter five-a of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new article, designated article four-a, to read as follows:

§5A-4A-1. Definitions.

As used in this article, unless the context clearly requires a different meaning:
(a) "Agency" means a West Virginia state governmental agency, office, department, division or other entity with autonomous power and authority that directly effects commerce, public safety, health or welfare or which regulates a service or activity enjoyed or engaged in by residents of this state.
(b) "Benefit" means a tangible manifestation of good or positive impact to business or the public at large that results from a governmental agency's or such agency's subdivisions or subdivisions' activities. The impact shall be in the form of protecting the public health or welfare, maintaining public order, protecting the environment, reducing the costs associated with conducting private business in this state, reducing the burden of taxes on residential businesses and individuals, reducing fraudulent claims for workers' compensation or unemployment compensation or public assistance benefits, delivering essential governmental services or promoting the hire and retention of the most competent, dedicated and creative public employees: Provided, That, for the purpose of this article, primary and secondary school teachers shall be included in the meaning of the term "public employees."
(c) "Business" means privately held businesses, including businesses which are owned or operated by individuals, partnerships or corporations, which are duly licensed and authorized for doing business in West Virginia and which are actually engaged in doing business in West Virginia.
(d) "Cost effectiveness" means the cost of operating an agency or one or more of its subdivisions is, at least equal to, the tangible benefit to business interests in general or to the public at large that result from such agency or such agency's subdivisions or subdivisions' operations.
(e) "Essential services" means governmental services that are necessary in order to protect the safety, health and welfare of the public at large and to maintain public order.
(f) "Subdivision" means any separate division, department, office or other entity operating under the authority of an agency that is comprised of two or more subdivisions, which performs a separate and distinct operation, function or activity of government, regardless of whether such operation, function or activity is similar or dissimilar in character to any other subdivision's operations, functions or activities which exists under the authority of the same agency.
(g) "The commission" means the blue ribbon commission on government cost and performance.
§5A-4A-2. Commission on government cost and
duties; power to subpoena witness and documents.

(a) There is hereby created the commission on government cost and performance, hereinafter referred to as the commission. The commission consists of seven members to be appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. The commission shall be appointed for four-year terms and each member may be removed from office during his or her unexpired term by the governor upon a determination of neglect of duty or official misconduct. Three members shall be owners, operators or executive employees from small businesses that employ less than five employees and who gross less than two hundred thousand dollars annually. Four members shall be owners, operators or executive employees from larger corporate business concerns that employ more than five persons and which gross more than two hundred thousand dollars annually. At no time may more than four members be of the same political party affiliation. All members shall be West Virginia residents.
(b) The commission shall meet at least once every two months and shall have as its major responsibilities the following:
Conduct a study encompassing all agencies of state government to determine which agencies or which subdivisions of the agencies are performing overlapping or duplicative services with other agencies of state government. The study shall also determine which agency or agencies or which subdivisions thereof, performing nonessential services, exist at a greater cost to the taxpayers than benefit, if any, dispensed therefrom. The study shall additionally include a review of reporting requirements that each agency studied imposes on businesses in this state: Provided, That the commission shall review reporting form formats to determine if such reporting forms require nonessential information that is burdensome for businesses to produce, whether separate agencies of government or separate subdivisions of a single agency require duplicative information on separate reporting forms. The commission shall also determine the feasibility of requiring separate agencies of government or separate subdivisions of the same state governmental agency to utilize computer technology in order to consolidate reporting requirements and to share forms for gathering information rather than sending separate forms requiring duplicative information: Provided, however, That the commission shall consider the law involving privilege or confidentiality relative to its study of the feasibility of agencies sharing information.
The commission shall also study the functions that each agency and its subdivisions perform and determine if the cost involved in funding the operations of the agency or one or more of its subdivisions is cost-effective relative to the benefit, if any, that results for the public good from its operations. The commission shall scrutinize closely any taxes, fees, fines, penalties, costs, forfeiture actions or other collection devices imposed by agencies and their subdivisions, while paying particular attention to the stated or assumed policy behind such collection devices, their character, the actual public policy interest, if any, they serve and whether or not the primary purpose of same is to perpetuate funding to maintain the operations of the agency or its subdivision or subdivisions without commensurate benefit to business and the public at large.
The commission members shall be paid the sum of four hundred dollars per meeting attended pursuant to such commission member's duties hereunder and be reimbursed for all reasonable and legitimate expenses, including, but not limited to, travel, meals and lodging, in the attendance of such meetings authorized by this chapter. The commission shall commence its activities no later than the first day of July, one thousand nine hundred ninety-five, by convening its first meeting no later than such date, at which time it shall set its agenda, assign responsibilities among its members and otherwise set forth upon the mission prescribed herein. The commission is hereby authorized to enlist support staff sufficient to meet its responsibilities hereunder. The Legislature shall from time to time appropriate sufficient sums to pay the costs of the support staff. The support staff may include, but is not limited to, lawyers, accountants, clerical workers and persons with an expertise involving the functions of government or creating incentives to promote the development, expansion and promotion of incentives for in-state business in this state.
On or before the first day of July, one thousand nine hundred ninety-six, the commission shall present a written report to the governor, the president of the Senate and the speaker of the House of Delegates concerning its activities and findings at the conclusion of its first year in service. Thereafter, in each succeeding year on such date, until the commission's mission hereunder to scrutinize the operations of state governmental agencies is complete it shall make such written report. The report shall specifically include recommendations relative to the following:
(1) Which agencies of state government or the subdivisions thereof are performing nonessential functions that have little or no commensurate benefit to business or the public;
(2) Which agencies or subdivisions thereof of state government can reduce reporting requirements by deleting requests for nonessential information or by consolidating requests by sharing reporting forms or the gathering and compilation of information with other agencies of government;
(3) What taxes, fees, fines, penalties, forfeiture actions or other costs and collection devices imposed by state government exist that are unnecessary for the public good, unfair or unfairly imposed, detrimental to business interests or otherwise serve no publicly redeeming function and are primarily designed to perpetuate the existence of an agency of government or its subdivision or subdivisions at the expense of business interests or the public at large;
(4) Ways to reduce fraud in the filing and processing of claims under the state workers' compensation and unemployment compensation systems as well as in any other state governmental system that dispenses financial benefits or welfare assistance: Provided, That the commission shall study what steps may be taken to enforce existing criminal provisions to prosecute any fraud, including, but not limited to, the criminal provisions existing relative to perjury and false swearing;
(5) How to reduce the size and cost of government, make it more efficient, reduce fraud that is perpetrated against agencies of government by persons seeking to gain financial benefits or other financial advantage to which such persons are not entitled;
(6) How to provide tax incentives to employers to hire and maintain employees and to reinvest profits back into the means of production in order to foster economic expansion;
(7) Ideas developed during the activities of the commission intended to promote business activities for the benefit of private business interests in this state;
(8) How to consolidate and streamline agencies, boards, commissions and other instrumentalities of state government;
(9) Whether realistic and reasonable prospects exists for privatizing particular state governmental functions;
(10) How to use information technology to reduce costs and better serve businesses and the public at large; and
(11) The feasibility of integrating the functions of government that exist as components of most state governmental agencies including: (A) Administration; (B) management and supervision; (C) program and budget development; (D) accounting; (E) data processing; (F) personnel; (G) public employee training; (H) acquisition and procurement; (I) contract management; (J) buildings and grounds management and maintenance; (K) stock rooms; (L) payroll; (M) travel; (N) purchasing; (O) auditing; (P) copying; (Q) publications; (R) communications; (S) research; (T) dissemination of information to the public; (U) strategic planning; (V) inspections and investigations; (W) regulation; and (X) chartering and licensing.
(c) The commission shall make rules that shall define criteria to be employed as a fair and uniform measuring device in order to determine cost-effectiveness in relation to an agency's or its subdivisions or subdivisions' operations.
(d) The commission shall have the power to subpoena witnesses and documents and to conduct both financial and performance audits.
(e) The commission shall additionally have the responsibility to review any legislative proposal that is proposed after the enactment of this chapter that envisions the creation of a new agency or subdivision that is intended to perform nonessential services or any other such proposal that seeks to broaden the regulatory powers of any existing agency or subdivision, whether or not such agency or subdivision currently performs nonessential services. The commission shall conclude a preliminary review of such proposal within fourteen days of being presented with a draft copy of any such proposal and be prepared to make available one or more of its members or employees for public comment, on or after the fourteenth day, in any forum authorized by the legislative body whose member or members is sponsoring the proposed legislation: Provided, That any public comment shall be limited in scope to whether the proposal is considered to be one that would be cost-effective, whether it would result in any benefit or benefits for business or individuals, whether it would impose additional burdens in the form of additional taxes, fees or other costs on business or individuals residing in this state and whether any additional burden that would result from its enactment would be commensurate to the benefit or benefits that would result from the proposal. In the event any proposed legislation is too massive and complex to be generally comprehended and meaningfully commented upon by the commission or its employees within the time period prescribed herein, the commission shall so state. Thereafter, in the event the proposed legislation is enacted in law, the commission shall make a study in accordance with its duties as set forth above.
§5A-4A-3. Ten percent expense reduction.
Every item in the state budget for the fiscal year beginning the first day of July, one thousand nine hundred ninety-five, shall be reduced by ten percent.

NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to create the "Commission on government cost and performance".It also makes findings and declarations relative to the need to reduce and restrict governmental bureaucracy by observing the natural tendency of governmental bureaucracies, especially nonessential ones, to function primarily to justify and perpetuate their existences rather than performing important and redeeming functions on behalf of the public good. The bill, therefore, creates a commission to study all state governmental agencies and their subdivisions in an effort to determine which agencies are performing essential services and which aren't. The commission is also directed to study ways to reduce government, make it less burdensome in relation to regulations, reporting requirements and the imposition of taxes, fees and other collection devices imposed upon private business concerns in the state and to reduce fraud perpetrated against public and employment-related assistance programs run by the state. Finally, the bill provides that the commission is also directed to study all legislative proposals involving the creation of new agencies or subdivisions or the expansion of existing agencies or subdivisions in order to report to the Legislature findings which relate to whether the proposal would create a benefit commensurate to the additional financial or regulatory burdens such proposal would impose.

This article is new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.