For this report, we gathered the largest collection of sunrise reports yet assembled—397 reports from 15 states over 33 years. 1 Table 7 provides basic data about the reports by state, revealing variation in how actively states use their sunrise processes. Utah and Kansas produced just two and three, 2 respectively, during our study period, while Colorado produced 119, accounting for almost a third (30%) of our dataset. Most states fell in between, generating 17 to 45 reports.

Perhaps states with more reports see more proposals for new regulations, but more likely, states with few reports simply do not employ their sunrise processes consistently. Indeed, some states seem to have stopped producing reports altogether: Utah, Maine and Minnesota have not produced any new sunrise reports since 2015, 2010 and 2009, respectively, while Florida and South Carolina have not done so since the 1990s. 3

Table 7: Basic Data on Sunrise Reports, Reviews and Occupations in This Study

  StateYears Covered by Reports  Reports  ReviewsOccupations Reviewed
South Carolina*1989–199771818
West Virginia1999–2017172321

Note: * = does not regularly produce reports.

Most of the reports in our dataset examine a single occupation. However, 54 reports cover between two and 10. This happened when proponents sought regulation for more than one related occupation at the same time and reviewers found it practical to combine the reviews into a single report. 4 For example, the Occupational Therapy Association of Colorado requested licensure of occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants via one application in 2006. 5 The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies’ Office of Policy, Research and Regulatory Reform addressed both requests in the same report.

Like the Occupational Therapy Association, proponents often request the same regulation for multiple occupations. But sometimes the regulations sought differ. In 2015, a group of surgical assistants and technologists in Nebraska requested licensure for assistants and certification for technologists in one application. Similarly, reviewers may make different recommendations for each occupation in a report, as Arizona did in 2007 when it recommended a distinct license for radiologist assistants and declined to make a recommendation for radiology practitioner assistants.

For these reasons, where a report comprises multiple reviews, we analyzed each review separately. 6  Our dataset of 397 sunrise reports therefore contains 494 separate reviews. The number of reviews in a state ranges from three (Kansas and Utah) to 145 (Colorado). The 494 reviews examine proposed regulations for 208 unique occupations, with the number of occupations reviewed in a state ranging from three (Kansas and Utah) to 92 (Colorado).

We used the full set of 494 reviews to explore three  questions: Who sought sunrise review and what regulations did they propose? What did reviewers recommend?  And what did legislatures do following sunrise review?

We also examined the same questions for three large subsets of reviews: (1) occupations repeatedly reviewed by the same state, (2) occupations reviewed by multiple states and (3) health occupations. These subsets make up sizable portions of our dataset. Many occupations were reviewed twice by the same state— some up to five times. For example, the Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado requested licensure of private investigators five times between 1985 and 2014, when the state finally relented. 7 All told, we identified 64 sets of repeat reviews. Totaling 160 reviews, they make up 32% of our dataset. Similarly, many occupations were reviewed by multiple states, including two—acupuncturists and athletic trainers—that were reviewed by eight. 8 In all, roughly 40% of the occupations in our dataset were reviewed by multiple states. Finally, reviews of health occupations accounted for just over half of our dataset (265 of 494).

Analyzing these subsets gives additional insight into important questions. Looking at the two subsets of repeat reviews shows how tenacious occupational insiders can be in pursuing regulation within and across states, while examining health occupations allows us to see whether reviewers and legislatures treat these occupations differently, given their presumably close connection to public health and safety.