Resources Agency wants to get

What's in a name? Possibly more than the $50,000 needed to land on the Senate suspense file.

Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, has introduced a bill that would change the name of the state's Resources Agency to the Natural Resources Agency. SB 1464, which Maldonado is carrying at the request of the Schwarzenegger administration, goes before the Senate Governmental Organization Committee today.

In most years, a simple name change bill would probably pass mostly unnoticed. But in the face of a massive state budget deficit, Senate Leader Don Perata, D-Oakland, last week directed the Senate Appropriations Committee to change the financial threshold needed to automatically land a bill on the suspense file.

Prior to Thursday, only bills with a general fund cost of $150,000 or more were sent to suspense, but that number was lowered to $50,000.  Maldonado is an an author who is not popular with his fellow GOP senators because he broke ranks to vote for the budget last year, and some are saying privately that SB 1464 could face problems.

Resources Secretary Mike Chrisman sent a letter to GO chair Dean Florez, D-Shafter, on Monday seeking to smooth the bill's passage. The new name, he said, "would more accurately reflect the agency's primary mission of overseeing the state's activities relating to the conservation, management and enhancement of California's natural resources."  The bill would also make changes in the Government Code to "accurately reflect those governmental entities currently within the agency's jurisdiction," Chrisman wrote.

Like any other bill changing the name of an agency, SB 1464 would incur costs mainly in the replacement of stationary, business cards, vehicle decals and the like. While it has yet to be written into the bill, Maldonado's staff released a statement saying they will minimize the cost by: "mandating that ‘old' supplies and logos continue to be used until they are exhausted or unserviceable."

"The Resources Agency, which is the sponsor of this legislation, has committed to continue using existing ‘California Resources Agency' logos, forms and other insignia until it they are exhausted or rendered unusable. With this commitment, the Resources Agency believes, ‘the bill will have little or no fiscal impact.'"

However, in a huge agency, even minor costs like changing the signs on offices and redesigning printed materials could add up to $50,000 or more. In his letter to Florez, Chrisman cited several other agency name changes that used a phase-in strategy to minimize costs. This included CAL FIRE in 2006, Health and Human Services in 1998, and Business, Transportation and Housing in 1980. In most of these cases, though, the change accompanied a larger-scale reorganization than those called for in SB 1464.  

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