Increasingly state legislators are confronted with scientific reports—particularly in the human health and environmental policy areas—which purport to offer evidence in support of, or in opposition to, pending legislation. For many legislators, it is relatively easy to impact the legislative process with such reports, and it is difficult to analyze scientific evidence critically. Legislators need the tools to interpret scientific reports effectively and responsibly.
Section 1. Purpose:
The purpose of the Board is to render scientific assessment, risk-based analysis, and consensus advice upon questions of science posed by the Governor or a Legislative Committee having jurisdiction over science matters.
Section 2: Creation of the (State Name) Science Advisory Board.
There is hereby established the (State Name) Science Advisory Board consisting of sixteen (16) members qualified and appointed as hereinafter provided who shall constitute an independent non-partisan board under the office of (insert name of nonpartisan central legislative staff office or other appropriate nonpartisan agency).
Section 3. Manner of Appointment; Term; Removal.
- Appointment: The Governor shall appoint eight (8) members, one (1) of whom shall be designated the Chairperson, and the Presiding Officer and Leader of the principal minority party of each chamber of the legislature shall each appoint two (2) members of the Board who meet the qualifications set forth in Section 4 from a list of names of scientists submitted for consideration by nationally recognized professional associations serving the science disciplines listed in Section 4.
- The term for Board members shall be four (4) years, except that the initial Board appointments shall be staggered with the Governor appointing four (4) members for one (1) year and four (4) members for two (2) years; the Presiding Officers and Minority Leaders shall each appoint one (1) member for a term of three (3) years and one (1) member for a term of four (4) years respectively. Upon the initial term expirations, members may be reappointed or the respective appointing authorities shall appoint their replacements for terms of four (4) years.
- The respective appointing authorities may remove a Board member in the event of professional ethics violations, conflict of interest, criminality, or upon any member becoming an employee of the state with the exception of university employees.
Section 4: Qualifications of Board Members.
The Board must be composed of individuals, who are not state employees with the exception of university employees or affiliated with an organization that represents a conflict of interest (e.g., lobbying organization), with reputations for professional competence and technical expertise with doctorates in one of the following disciplines:
- Environmental Health
- Ecological Science
- Human Medicine
- Risk Assessment
- Agricultural Science
- Marine Science
- Veterinary Science
Section 5: Duties of the Board.
The duties of the Board consist of the following:
- Review and summarize pertinent scientific studies related to the charge topic or question(s) with an emphasis on studies and data that are most relevant to the subject of concern (i.e., human data for human studies, ecological data for ecological receptors, etc.)
- Summarize findings and recommendations in a manner that is timely, objective, transparent, and understandable by elected officials and policymakers
- Board interpretation, findings, and recommendations should represent the prevailing weight of scientific evidence for a given charge topic or question(s)
- Risk assessment, comparative risk analysis, and economic analyses should be included in Board discussions and recommendations when possible
- When appropriate, science should be identified and delineated from policy as separate components that impact risk management and legislative decision-making
- Board should have the ability to recruit and include expertise from other qualified experts as needed
- Consensus should be achieved if possible; if not achievable, minority reports are possible
- Draft findings should be subject to an open public comment period and process before being finalized
- Board members should recuse themselves from participation on specific topics when such topics represent a conflict of interest
Section 6. Staff:
The Director of Legislative Staff shall act as the Executive Director of the Board and shall assign such clerical and staff support from the legislative staff as required.
Section 7. Compensation and Expenses
The members of the Board shall receive per diem pay and expenses equal to that paid to legislators when not in session.
Approved by ALEC Board of Directors on January 24, 2009.