What is an agency & why is it important?
Agencies are quasi-legislative/quasi-executive/quasi-judicial bodies, usually established either through legislation or via executive action. They are called by many different names, including commissions, boards, agencies, councils, etc. For a list of all Texas state agencies, see here.
Agencies issue governing rules on many issues that affect the everyday lives of citizens. Agency rules that are issued within the scope of their statutory authority have the force of law until and unless the Legislature or a court overrides the rule or rescinds the authority.
Texas has a very powerful administrative state, for several reasons:
What do agencies do?
Agencies are often called the "fourth branch", because they take over some of the functions of all three of the other branches of government in the following ways:
As required by Texas Government Code chapter 325, the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission reviews every state agency for obsolescence on a rotating schedule. Educational institutions are exempt from review. The Commission recommends to the Legislature that the agency either be retained (in which case it will go through the review process again after several years) or abolished. These recommendations are non-binding, but must be followed up by legislative action affirmatively reauthorizing the agency (called "sunset bills"). If the Legislature fails to introduce or pass a sunset bill reauthorizing an agency, that agency is automatically abolished.
All of the Sunset Advisory Commission's reports and working documents, including agency submissions & final Commission reports, are available online.