Sunrise, Sunset and State Agency Audits

Sunset is the automatic termination of regulatory boards and agencies unless legislative action is taken to reinstate them. Originally proposed by Colorado in 1976, 36 states adopted sunset legislation. The most common outcomes of sunset reviews were not terminations of agencies and boards as predicted, but administrative and structural changes. By 1990, six states had repealed their sunset laws and another six had suspended the process (Brinegar and Schmitt, The Book of the States 1992–1993). What is more common at this time is the statutory inclusion of sunset provisions in new laws as well as the periodic examination of agencies through performance audits, also known as legislative or evaluation audits. In some states, the process is carried out through the state auditor's office, while in others, a branch of the legislative research agency conducts the reviews.

Sunrise is a process under which an occupation or profession wishing to receive state certification or licensure must propose the components of the legislation, along with cost and benefit estimates of the proposed regulation. The profession must then convince the legislators that consumers will be unduly harmed if the proposed legislation is not adopted. Interestingly, professions rather than consumer groups usually seek regulation, although one rationale for this is that the practitioners understand the harm associated with professional practice better than do consumers. At least 14 states adopted sunrise legislation, although, as with sunset, the activity became more widespread through changes in legislative review processes in many states. A proliferation of voluntarily credentialed groups has reduced the number of requests for licensure placed before legislatures, although the allied health, environmental and financial professions are making progress with uniform licensure.


CLEAR also tracks individual sunrise and sunset reports on its CLEAR News weblog.


State Sunrise Sunset Online Resources
Alabama no yes Alabama Examiners of Public Accounts
Alaska no yes Division of Legislative Audit
Arizona yes yes office of the auditor general
Handbook on Arizona's Sunrise and Sunset Review
Arkansas no repealed Division of Legislative Audit
California no yes joint legislative sunset review committee
State Auditor/Bureau of State Audits
Colorado yes yes Office of Policy, Research and Regulatory Reform
Connecticut no yes: legislation suspended 1983; reinstated 1998 sunset process
Legislative Program Review and Investigations Committee
Delaware inactive yes Office of Auditor of Accounts
Florida yes yes: reinstated July 2006 florida sunrise statute
Sunset legislation
Office of Program Policy Analysis and Govt. Accountability
Georgia yes repealed 1992;
activity continues
Georgia Department of Audits
Hawaii yes yes Legislative Reference Bureau Reports and Studies
Idaho no yes, but limited Office of Performance Evaluations
Illinois yes yes; process inactive auditor general
Legislative Audit Commission
Indiana no yes The Office of Fiscal and Management Analysis of the
Indiana General Assembly
Iowa no no auditor of state
Legislative Fiscal Bureau
Kansas no terminated 1983 The Legislative Division of Post Audit
Kentucky no yes; inactive legislative research council
Auditor of Public Accounts
Louisiana no yes Legislative Auditor - Performance Audit Division
Maine yes yes department of audit
Maine Sunrise Review Procedures
Maryland no yes Office of Legislative Audits
Massachusetts no no Auditor of the Commonwealth
Michigan no yes, but limited Office of the Auditor General
Minnesota yes yes, but limited;
inactive
The Legislative Auditor
Mississippi no repealed Office of the State Auditor
Missouri no no State Auditor's Office
Montana repealed repealed Legislative Audit Division
Nebraska yes repealed Legislature - Performance Audit Reports
Nevada no yes, but limited Legislative Counsel Bureau Audit Division
New Hampshire no repealed office of legislative budget assistant - audit division
Performance Audits Online
New Jersey no yes, but limited Office of Legislative Services
New Mexico no yes Legislative Finance Committee
New York no yes, but limited Office of the New York State Comptroller
North Carolina repealed terminated 1981, 1983 Office of the State Auditor
North Dakota no no Office of the State Auditor - Performance Audits
Ohio no yes auditor of state
Sunset Review Committee - Statute
Oklahoma no yes - inactive Office of the State Auditor and Inspector
Oregon no legislation repealed 1993 Secretary of state - Audits Division
Pennsylvania no yes, but limited;
now inactive
Department of the Auditor General
Rhode Island no suspended Bureau of Audits
South Carolina no repealed Legislative Audit Council
South Dakota no suspended 1979 Department of Legislative Audit
Tennessee no yes Comptroller of the Treasury Division of State Audit
Texas no yes Sunset Advisory Commission
Utah no yes Utah Auditor General
Vermont yes yes state auditor
Sunrise Reports
Virginia yes yes, but limited Recent Sunrise Studies from the board of health professions

Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission Recent Reports Online
Washington yes yes state auditor
joint legislative audit & review cmte reports
Department of Health Sunrise Reports Online
Sunrise Guidelines
West Virginia yes repealed 2007
West Virginia Performance Evaluation and Research Division Reports
Wisconsin no yes, but limited Legislative Audit Bureau
Wyoming no repealed 1988


Please report any changes to sthompson@clearhq.org.


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