Before examining data from sunrise reports, it helps to understand the central components of the laws under which they are produced. All sunrise laws strive to help legislatures evaluate the need for new or expanded occupational regulations before they enact them. To that end, they share three key commonalities. First, sunrise laws aim to help legislatures protect public safety without excessively interfering with the right to enter a lawful occupation. Second, most laws put the onus on those seeking regulation to prove a need for it. And third, sunrise laws are generally designed to promote transparency and objective fact-finding.

Our analysis examines sunrise statutes and, where statutes are light on detail, administrative regulations or departmental documents that guide reviews. (See the legal appendix for citations and the state profiles for greater detail.) But, as discussed below, reviewers’ practices sometimes differ from statutory and regulatory guidance, at times quite substantially.