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California State Capitol. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Frequently Asked Questions about Possible Influences on State Agencies

How do interest groups influence state agencies?

By Chris Micheli, May 31, 2024 2:30 am

How does the Governor influence state agencies? If the agency is within the line authority of the Governor, or if the Governor appoints the director of the entity, the Governor can issue directives to the agency or to the CEO. If the Governor appoints all or some of the governing board members of an independent agency, the Governor can influence these appointees.

How does the Legislature influence state agencies? First, when conferring the power or authority to regulate, the Legislature can choose to grant a broad scope of authority or a very limited grant of authority. Second, another key function of legislative bodies is the role of oversight. Third, through the annual budget process, the Legislature can exert influence by providing or removing funding or by adopting “budget control language” that specifically directs agency activities. Fourth, the Legislature can hold hearings to review an agency’s actions in adopting regulations and implementing laws. Fifth, the Legislature can direct one of its control agencies (State Auditor, Legislative Analyst) to investigate the agency’s actions to regulate or implement. Sixth, the Legislature can ask OAL to review regulations. Seventh, through the annual Budget, the Legislature can provide or remove funding, and direct agency activities through budget control language. Eighth, agencies can be pressured via numerous informal and behind-the-scenes techniques applied by committees, leaders or individual legislators.

How do interest groups influence state agencies? The main route is by taking advantage of the extensive opportunities to participate in the formal rulemaking activities. Most interest groups go well beyond simply participating in the regulatory processes. Groups can and often do resort to the legislative arena in order to influence rulemaking activities. Interest groups may work with the Governor as a means of pressuring state agencies to act or not act. Unhappy with a given regulatory action, they can initiate litigation to challenge the agency’s rulemaking activities. They can instigate media attention and press coverage regarding the state agency’s actions.

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