OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 1354

AN ACT CONCERNING THE APPOINTMENT OF THE COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION.

SUMMARY:

This bill changes the appointment process for the education commissioner. It eliminates the State Board of Education's authority to appoint the commissioner and instead requires the board to recommend a candidate to the governor. It requires the governor to nominate the commissioner, and requires the legislature to approve the nomination, using the executive and legislative nomination and approval process for department heads. Under current law, the General Assembly does not confirm the education commissioner's appointment.

The bill does not change the State Board of Education's statutory designation as the department head for the State Department of Education. Under current law and the bill, the commissioner is the department's administrative officer and coordinates, administers, and supervises the department according to the board's policies.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2007

APPOINTMENT OF DEPARTMENT HEADS

The bill applies the statutory process for appointing executive agency department heads to the education commissioner.

It thus requires the governor to submit the commissioner's nomination to either house by February 1 of the first year of the governor's term. As with a department head nomination, the bill requires the chamber that receives the governor's nomination for education commissioner to “immediately refer” it to the Executive and Legislative Nominations Committee. The committee must report it by resolution within 15 calendar days. The chamber must accept or reject the resolution within 10 calendar days after receiving the resolution from the committee.

If confirmed, a nominee takes office on March 1 of the year in which he or she is nominated, with two exceptions (CGS 4-7(a)). One, if a nominee is not appointed or reappointed by March 1, the incumbent may continue to serve until March 10. Two, if a position is vacant before March 1 during the first year of a governor's term, the nominee may exercise the powers and duties of the office as a designate before confirmation (CGS 4-7(b)(2)).

VACANCY APPOINTMENTS DURING A REGULAR SESSION

Under the bill, if a vacancy in the education commissioner's position occurs when the General Assembly is in regular session, the governor must submit a nomination to fill it within 30 days after the vacancy occurs. The chamber receiving the nomination must immediately refer it to the Executive and Legislative Nominations Committee. The committee has 10 legislative days to report its resolution. If the chamber confirms the nomination within 30 calendar days after it is submitted, the nominee takes office and serves until the end of the original term. If the chamber rejects the nomination within 30 calendar days after it is submitted, the governor must, within 30 days of the rejection, submit another nomination. If a nomination is submitted within 30 days of a session's constitutional adjournment date and the legislature does not confirm or reject it, the procedure for filling vacancies that occur during the interim must be followed (CGS 4-7(b)(1)).

VACANCY APPOINTMENTS DURING THE INTERIM

If an education commissioner vacancy occurs during a legislative interim, the governor must fill it until the sixth Wednesday of the next regular session. The governor must submit the name of the nominee to either chamber for confirmation at the beginning of the next regular session. The chamber to which the nomination was submitted must follow the procedure for vacancies occurring when the General Assembly is in session (CGS 4-7(c)).

REJECTED NOMINATIONS

If the General Assembly rejects a nomination for education commissioner, the nominee is barred from serving as education commissioner during the remainder of the General Assembly's term (CGS 4-7(d)).

BACKGROUND

State Board of Education

The State Board of Education is an 11-member board (nine voting and two nonvoting members) appointed by the governor and confirmed by both houses of the General Assembly. The nine voting members serve staggered four-year terms. The board is the state policy-making authority for public education, including preschool, elementary, and secondary education; special education; and vocational education.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Education Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

24

Nay

4

(03/19/2007)