I’ve been writing recently about the Milton-Marks “Little Hoover” Commission on California State Government Organization and the Economy which has an important task in reviewing Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed reorganization plan.
Why does this state commission bears the name of a former U.S. President? The name is derived from two commissions chaired by former President Herbert C. Hoover. After the United States emerged from the Second World War, Congress began to focus on the organization of the executive branch. In 1946, Congress enacted the Administrative Procedure Act, Pub.L. 79-404. The following year, it enacted the Lodge-Brown Act, Public Law 80-162, creating the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch. Then President Harry S. Truman named former President Herbert C. Hoover as chairman of the commission who was then 73 years old. Later, President Dwight D. Eisenhower named President Hoover as chairman of a second commission.
California’s commission came a decade later in 1962. By statute, the commission includes two sitting senators (Rubio and Wyland) and two assembly members (Achadjian and Huber). I find this aspect interesting because Article IV, Section 13 of the California constitution provides:
A member of the Legislature may not, during the term for which the member is elected, hold any office or employment under the State other than an elective office.
Accordingly, these legislators’ membership on the commission violates the constitution if that membership is considered to be an “office” under the state. This was an issue in Parker v. Riley, 18 Cal.2d 83 (1941), which involved a challenge to legislators’ membership on the California Commission on Interstate Cooperation. The Supreme Court assumed but did not decide that the membership constituted an “office, trust or employment” within the meaning of the constitutional prohibition at that time. The court then looked at whether the legislators’ duties as commissioners were any different from their duties as legislators. Finding that the statute merely provided a new method of providing information, the court held that the statute did not confer a new office on the legislators.
The duties of the Little Hoover Commission, however, are not limited to simply gathering information as was the case in Parker. The Little Hoover Commission is required to oversee the Bureau of State Audits to ensure compliance with specific statutes. Government Code Section 8542. This is an executive, not a legislative, function. As the Supreme Court noted in Parker:
The Constitution forbids any such assumption of duties by the legislative branch of government, and a statute conferring a nonlegislative office or trust upon members of the legislature would be clearly unconstitutional.
18 Cal. 2d at 88.
The Little Hoover Commission will meet next Friday (May 11) to work on its draft report on the Governor’s reorganization plan. According to this notice, this teleconference facilities will be available in Los Angeles and Boise, Idaho.