Sunrise laws typically require proponents to establish a need for government intervention, which may deter frivolous regulatory proposals. There are two main ways sunrise laws do this (see Table 5). First, to trigger sunrise review, some states require regulation proponents to file an application. Seven states— Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Maine, Utah, Vermont and West Virginia—do this. In another two, Nebraska and Virginia, an application is one way to trigger sunrise review, but reviews can also be started by executive action. In the remaining six states, reviews are generally launched when regulatory legislation is introduced. (Although not mentioned in the states’ laws, in Virginia and Washington, reviews are, in practice, also started by legislative request.)
In most states with applications, anyone can file one—legislators, government officials, consumers and so forth. However, as our sunrise report data reveal, most applications are filed by industry representatives seeking regulation of their own occupation. Filing an application often requires these insiders to extensively detail why they believe regulation is justified. Asking proponents to present arguments and evidence rather than blanket assertions for why regulation is in the public interest may deter the most baseless proposals. In addition, four states charge application fees ranging from $500 (Nebraska and Utah) to $1,000 (Kansas and Maine). Interestingly, Utah’s fee applies only to members of the occupation. Charging a fee may also deter some baseless or repeat proposals. 1
Colorado and Vermont have another way of deterring repeat proposals. Their laws permit reviewers to decline to consider proposals where a group repeatedly requests sunrise review of the same occupation without submitting new information that might affect the recommendation. 2
Not only do such provisions empower reviewers to conserve public funds by not conducting redundant reviews, but they may also serve as a defense against persistent lobbying efforts.
In addition to or as an alternative to applications, several states require proponents to provide information demonstrating the need for regulation during the sunrise process. 3
In one or both of these ways, nearly all sunrise states—13 out of 15—require proponents to justify the need for regulation. This does not necessarily mean that reviewers in the remaining states do not request information from proponents in practice.
Table 5: Provisions Putting Onus on Regulation Proponents to Demonstrate Need for Regulation in Sunrise Laws, 15 States
Application Required to Trigger Sunrise Process
ProponentsRequiredtoProvideInformation Demonstrating Need for Regulation
$500 or $1,000
Health and non-health: b,c
Health and non-health:
Health: g Non-health:
Washington (health and non-health)
Health: a Non-health: a,c
Health and non-health: N/A
Health and non-health: g
Note: *= does not regularly produce reports. a = sunrise triggered by introduction of legislation (in Minnesota, regulation proponents must file a “report”—effectively an application—within 15 days of a bill’s introduction). b = sunrise may also be triggered by executive action. c = sunrise also triggered by legislative request in practice. d = fee is $500 if Commissioner of Professional and Financial Regulation is conducting independent assessment; $1,000 if a technical committee is conducting review. e = fee can be waived. f = if applicant is member of the occupation.g = proponents must provide information only at the reviewer’s request. h = if sunrise is triggered by application.