VACostCutting

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

What's Worth Watching

Day 1 is over. Leg Services seems to have most, if not all bills posted. There are a lot of the same - a lot of action on drunk driving penalities. Based on shear number alone, eminent domain and transportation will dominate the debate over the next 2 months. Here's a rundown on some promising pieces of legislation -- not all of them are affiliated by the Cost Cutting Caucus. I'm sure my fellow bloggers will offer up others...

Our humble leader, Delegate Saxman, offered up a number of gems. However, these two stick out:

HB1295 - creates the Council on Government Accountability and Efficiency. Made up entirely of private sector folks, using private money will have full access to state operations and identify waste, abuse, and ways to do things better and cheaper. Does anyone remember Reagan's Grace Commission? Sound familiar?

HB1297 - Commonwealth Realignment Committee (leg services has a different title, but rumor has it that this has been changed). Similar to 1295, only this is an 'in-house' effort that will evaluate every government agency, activity, and function on the basis of relevancy, performance, and efficiency. Two key pieces of the bill: any recommendations for elimination or reduction shall be sent to the floor, and voted on and the bill cannot be amended.

There were several privatization bills:
HB667, from Del. Wardrup calls for the "competitive bidding" of all highway maintenance.
HB1255, from Del. Hugo calls for a gradual increase in the privatization of corrections food services.
HB1122 was reintroduced by Del. Cline - this would require "commercial activities" produced by the government to be contracted out, unless there was a pressing need to keep them in house.

A few others worth noting:

HB55 - Del. Marshall - would call for the continuation of the budget, prior year levels, for a failure to act. This would prevent a government shut down in the event of say, a fight over a tax increase?

HB106 - Del. Purkey - calls for an auto reduction in spending by the Governor if revenues are at least 1 percent below forcasts. Brilliant.

Redefining "Public Use" - I counted at least 4 different bills in the House (94, 190, 902, and 924) - these will likely be merged into one some how.

House Majority Leader and Delegate Cline have offered a bill (HB 544) to generate more transparency in the budget process - requiring the Department of Budget and Planning to give the General Assembly more information, up front. Along the same vein, HB837 would create a Virginia Budget Office in the General Assembly.

Del. Lingamfelter has once again offered HB16, require a new administration to undertake a financial and management review of government functions and activities.

There are a few stinkers too...but in an effort to stay positive I'll keep those to myself...unless asked.

p/s - feel free to email me at any time with questions or comments at geoffrey.segal@reason.org

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