TO BORROW A PHRASE THAT he made famous , Arnold Schwarzenegger is ready to say, “Hasta la vista, baby” to the California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB). In early January, the California governor began his effort to eliminate the Sacramento-based CIWMB as well as 87 other state boards and commissions.
In his annual State of the State address, Schwarzenegger portrayed the move as part of his effort to streamline California's government, deeming the entities “unnecessary.” Under the governor's proposal, the California Environmental Protection Agency would assume CIWMB's responsibilities, which include overseeing the state's effort to divert 50 percent of its garbage from landfills and regulating waste management facilities.
Schwarzenegger has chosen to follow the state's formal reorganization process in his attempt to implement the plan. Therefore, on Jan. 6, he sent his proposal, officially known as “Governor's Reorganization Proposal No. 1,” to the state's Little Hoover Commission. The advisory commission has up to 60 days to review the proposal and can only make no-binding recommendations that it take effect or not, or be altered in some way.
The governor cannot submit the initiative to the State Legislature until the commission has had it for at least 30 days. The proposal will take effect if legislators do not vote it down within 60 days of receiving it. A majority vote in either house would kill the proposal. Furthermore, legislators must consider the bill in its entirety; they cannot vote for the elimination of only some of the boards and commissions included.
Mark Murray, executive director of the Sacramento-based Californians Against Waste (CAW), says the proposal has a tough road ahead because Democrats control both legislative houses (Schwarzenegger is a Republican), and also because of the large number of organizations included. “I'm absolutely confident that the Legislature is going to reject it because there are too many complicated issues involved,” he says.
CAW is against the current proposal but is not against the general idea of restructuring the state's organizational framework for dealing with solid waste and recycling, Murray says. Combining the several state organizations that oversee various waste-related issues could improve efficiency, he says.
However, one problem with Schwarzenegger's initiative, Murray says, is that it eliminates the CIWMB without addressing the solid waste and recycling policies enacted since the board was created in 1989. Those policies often were crafted with a good deal of flexibility and subjectivity because it was assumed that a deliberative body would be enforcing them, he says.
Without a public board to make qualitative judgments, such as whether a local government has made a good faith effort to meet the 50 percent landfill diversion goal, the laws will need to be reworked to “make them more specific and remove a lot of flexibility from [them],” Murray says.