Sunrise processes are generally designed to promote transparency and objective fact-finding. States’ laws may pursue these goals in at least three ways (see Table 6). First, they may explicitly require written sunrise reports. Written reports make reviewers’ reasoning and evidence a matter of public record, promoting a more objective, thorough and transparent review. If reviewers know their deliberations will become public, they may be less likely to accept regulation proponents’ arguments and evidence out of hand and more likely to subject it to careful vetting. Most states’ sunrise laws—11 out of 15—require written reports. Only Arizona, Florida, Minnesota and Washington do not. However, even in states that require reports, reviewers do not always produce them routinely.

Second, some sunrise laws give reviewers more time to conduct their reviews, which may lead to stronger reports with more independent fact-finding. For seven states and health reviews in Virginia, reviewers have no time limit, while several states— Colorado, Georgia, Nebraska, Virginia (non-health) and West Virginia—give reviewers nine months to a year to study the need for regulation.

Third, sunrise reviews may encourage reviewers to accept input from members of the public besides regulation proponents. Encouraging reviewers to accept, or even solicit, input from other members of the public may promote a more balanced, thorough and transparent process. Ten states’ sunrise laws seek to level the playing field by mentioning in their laws that reviewers can or should consider input from regulation opponents, consumers and others who may be affected by proposed regulations (for Virginia, this applies to health reviews only). The remaining states do not expressly mention public input in their laws.

Table 6: Provisions Promoting Transparency and Objective Fact-Finding in Sunrise Laws, 15 States

State Report Required Report Author Time Allowed for Review Public Input on Review Encouraged
Arizona (health)LegislativeNo limit
ColoradoExecutiveAt least 10.5 months
Florida*LegislativeNo limit
GeorgiaMixed9 months
HawaiiLegislativeNo limit
Kansas (health)Executive4 months
Maine*ExecutiveNo limit
Minnesota* (health)ExecutiveNo limit
Nebraska (health)Executive12 months
South Carolina*ExecutiveNo limit
Utah*LegislativeAt least 4 months
VermontExecutiveAt least 4 months
VirginiaHealth and non-health: Health and non-health: ExecutiveHealth: No limit
Non-health: At least 11 months
Washington (health and non-health)ExecutiveNo limit
West VirginiaLegislative9 months

Note: * = does not regularly produce reports.

Overall, our examination of commonalities among sunrise laws reveals their animating purpose: Despite variations, they are uniformly designed to subject regulatory proposals to evidence-based analysis to ensure new regulation addresses verified harms and is no more extensive than necessary for public protection. They acknowledge and aim to counter balance lobbying by vested interests with independent fact-finding and opposing viewpoints. And they seek to protect open occupational entry.

Of course, as noted, reports may be more or less rigorous than statutory and regulatory guidance would suggest. In the next section, we talk with three reviewers about how sunrise works in practice. Then, we explore the reports produced under state sunrise laws.