Now Only Discretionary, Arizona’s Sunrise Review Process Has Long Produced Superficial Sunrise Reports
of Requests Came from Industry
of Requests Sought New Licenses
of Reviews Recommended New Licenses
Reports from 1986 to 2017
- 36 Reviews
- 92 Unique Occupations
- 26 Sets of Repeat Reviews
In Arizona, sunrise reviews of health occupations have been discretionary since 2018, 2 but, based on the reports in our dataset, the state’s sunrise reports lacked independent research and meaningful analysis even when reviews were mandatory. Instead of deeply researching occupations and the need, or lack thereof, for regulation, the responsible legislative committees appear to conduct sunrise reviews entirely within committee meetings. The resulting reports are, along with Utah’s, the nation’s most superficial.
Arizona enacted its sunrise law for health-related occupations in 1985. Sunrise review is initiated when an applicant group, defined as a “health professional group . . . or any other interested party,” files an application proposing regulation; all but one application in our study came from industry insiders. There is no application fee. Applications are filed with the speaker of the House of Representatives and president of the Senate and are assigned to both chambers’ “committees of reference” (COR) for review and recommendation.
Until 2018, the COR produced written sunrise reports and regulation proponents sought to introduce regulatory legislation when the committees recommended it. Now, the Legislature can consider regulation regardless of what the committees recommend—and even if they fail to conduct a review at all. These revisions have effectively rendered sunrise review optional. All reports in our study pre-date the 2018 revisions.
Arizona’s sunrise law charges applicants with demonstrating a need for new regulation. 3 Among other factors, applicants must describe the nature of any potential harm to consumers, recognizing that state law permits regulation only if “[t]here is credible evidence that the unregulated practice . . . can clearly harm or endanger the public health, safety or welfare and the potential for harm is easily recognizable and not remote or dependent on tenuous argument.” This is a moderate standard.
Arizona law also directs the Legislature, if it decides to regulate a health occupation, to implement the least restrictive regulation, from a list of regulatory alternatives to licensure, that would address the potential harm identified. And it requires that regulation be imposed “not . . . for the purpose of prohibiting competition, but only for the exclusive purpose of protecting the public interest.”
Of course, the sunrise law cannot pre-empt legislative decisions, so these provisions are nonbinding. The sunrise process—when employed—does not require information or analysis that would help the Legislature determine whether and what type of regulation is in the public interest. For instance, unless requested by the COR, applicants are not required to provide the following information: costs of the proposed regulation to workers, consumers or the state; possible benefits; whether the proposed regulation is more restrictive than necessary to protect the public; or whether other regulations, including previous or ongoing efforts, would address the potential harm identified.
These deficits and the political nature of Arizona’s reviews may contribute to the superficiality of its sunrise reports, which consist of only a cover page stating the request, applicant and recommendation, plus attachments including the application and meeting agendas and minutes.
Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 32-3101 to -3108
Licensure Was Frequently Sought, Recommended and Enacted
Summary of Arizona’s Sunrise Reviews, 1986–2017
Notes: A distinct license is a separate license for an occupation already licensed under another, usually broader, occupational category. A recommendation of no new regulation means just that; a recommendation to maintain or amend license refers to a recommendation to reject new regulations (such as a distinct license) in favor of keeping an existing license, with or without amendments. A legislative outcome of no new regulation means no new regulation of personal qualifications; the legislature may have enacted other regulations. An outcome of broader credential means the legislature opted to sweep the occupation into a broader licensure, certification or registration scheme. Where a state reviewed an occupation more than once, we are counting only the legislative outcome as of 2018.
Occupations Licensed Without Supporting Recommendations
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