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No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
HB 1543 would establish the Advisory Council on Cultural Affairs (ACCA), which would operate in the office of the governor. The stated purpose of this council would be to advise the governor’s office “on furthering the economic, social, legal, and political contributions and equality of the Hispanic population of this state.”
Nine members would make up the council:
Members appointed by lieutenant governor and speaker of the house would serve two-year terms, while the members appointed by the governor would serve four-year terms. These appointments would have to represent all areas of the state.
This legislation would prohibit members from receiving compensation or reimbursement while performing their duties for the ACCA.
HB 1543 specifies the duties of the ACCA. Most of these duties would include reviewing and recommending policies on a broad range of topics that affect the Hispanic community.
Lastly, the ACCA would be required to submit a report on a biennial basis that would include status and funding updates for programs aimed at addressing the needs of the Hispanic population. Most importantly, members must make recommendations in the report regarding changes in policy or reforms. This report must be submitted to the governor, speaker of the house, and the lieutenant governor.
Although HB 1543 would place the ACCA in an advisory role with no real authority, we still oppose this legislation on limited government grounds.
A basic tenant of our limited government principle is that the government treats all citizens equally under the law. This bill would single out a particular group for special treatment based on ethnic background. Additionally, this council’s only focus would be to find ways of benefiting that one group. While the council itself would not be able to appropriate money for the benefit of one favored group, recommendations made be the council would almost certainly serve as the basis for future legislation to do so. This legislation runs counter to the purposes of government and for this reason we oppose HB 1543.
As a final note, while the council members would serve unpaid, the creation of a council is not without cost. This would necessitate time and effort from staff members in the office of the governor to coordinate and facilitate meetings and events for the advisory council. This would add an extra burden to those staff members beyond their normal duties.
We also opposed the Senate companion bill, SB 459.