MONTGOMERY — Members of Gov. Kay Ivey's Study Group on Efficiency in State Government announced Tuesday their recommendation for creating a new state agency to house occupational licensing boards and commissions.
Alabama State Treasurer Young Boozer is the chair of the study group, which Ivey established by an executive order in January.
In the report, Boozer said, "The Governor's Study Group on Efficiency in State Government identified various ways to increase the accountability and efficiency of the State's occupational licensing and regulatory boards."
"The Study Group determined that making changes to the organization of these boards should be a priority. The Study Group reviewed occupational licensing and regulatory boards by analyzing each board's purpose, structure, funding, and budget, as well as sunset reports provided by the Examiners of Public Accounts," the report continued. "This review found numerous opportunities for increased efficiency and accountability. The Study Group spoke with individuals who have knowledge and experience in reforming state occupational licensing and regulatory board systems. This included a review of other states that have undertaken similar efforts in this area. Finally, the Study Group held a public hearing where it heard from interested parties and stakeholders," he added in the report.
"It is recommended that a cabinet-level agency could be established with a director being appointed by the Governor to develop a plan to consolidate the administrative duties of occupational licensing and regulatory boards such as, but not limited to, accounting, personnel, legal, IT, investigative, and general board administration responsibilities. When determining which boards should be consolidated into this agency, factors to consider could include the board's annual revenues, lack of accountable state employees, and current accountability and responsiveness to the public. Additionally, for any boards that are not initially consolidated into the agency, the Legislature's Sunset Committee could be allowed to consider whether to consolidate additional boards into the agency when the board is up for its sunset review."
The recommendation is similar to legislation brought in the previous session by State Sen. Chris Elliott (R-Josephine). Elliott's legislation would've created a new Occupational Licensing Boards Division within the Alabama Secretary of State's Office. The bill passed out of a Senate committee Elliott chaired but never came up for a floor vote in the Senate.
The report also recommended offering paid parental leave to state employees.
"The State should offer parental leave to employees that includes paid, guaranteed time off in connection with the birth or adoption of a child," Boozer said in the report. "This is offered by many private employers, other states, and the federal government and could make state government more competitive and attractive to younger prospective employees seeking to start a family."
The study group sent the report to Ivey on Wednesday. Any policy recommendations would have to be approved by the Legislature before becoming law.
Other members in the study group include State Comptroller Kathleen Baxter, State Sens. Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville) and Linda Coleman-Madison (D-Birmingham), State Personnel Director Jackie Graham, Revenue Commissioner Vernon Barnett, State Budget Officer Doryan Carlton, State Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile), and Jon Barganier of Manufacture Alabama.
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