Georgia’s sunrise law requires some of the most detailed inquiries into proposed regulations’ costs and least restrictive regulations of any state. In line with the law, the Georgia sunrise reports in our dataset are consistently rigorous.
Georgia enacted its sunrise law, which covers both health and non-health occupations, in 1986. Sunrise review is triggered by the introduction of regulatory legislation. Although the law does not require regulation proponents to file an application to initiate the sunrise process, the state’s reports indicate that industry insiders were behind most (82%) of the bills.
After a bill is introduced proposing new regulation of an occupation, the chairman of the committee to which the bill is referred (the “committee of reference”) informs the Georgia Occupational Regulation Review Council. GORRC, which is housed in the governor’s office and consists of nine members drawn from the executive and legislative branches, then has nine months to conduct its review and produce its report.
Guiding GORRC in its task is the preamble to Georgia’s sunrise law, which states that the law’s purpose is to “ensure that no programs of licensure and certification shall hereafter be imposed upon any profession or business unless required for the safety and well-being of the citizens of this state.” Accordingly, regulation is justified only if unregulated practice of the occupation is shown to have the clear potential to harm the public—a moderate standard.
As part of its review, GORRC may solicit information from regulation proponents and other interested parties on the proposed regulation’s costs to workers, consumers and the state, as well as its benefits. GORRC may also require proponents to explain why less restrictive regulations or previous efforts to address the potential harm identified are insufficient to ameliorate it.
Georgia’s sunrise law requires GORRC to recommend, and the General Assembly to enact, the least restrictive appropriate method of regulation that would protect the public. To this end, the law provides a list of regulatory alternatives to licensure and certification. It also describes situations in which the General Assembly should enact licensure or certification or instead consider a less restrictive form of regulation. Of course, the sunrise law cannot pre-empt legislative decisions, so these provisions are nonbinding.
Georgia’s sunrise law does not put the onus on regulation proponents to file an application to trigger sunrise, but it has other strengths, requiring careful consideration of proposed regulations’ costs and least restrictive regulations. Accordingly, the state’s sunrise process results in rigorous reports that consistently use independent research and analysis to understand occupations and the need, or lack thereof, for regulation.
Licensure Was Frequently Sought but Infrequently Recommended or Enacted
Summary of Georgia’s Sunrise Reviews, 1987–2017
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
*Multiple recommendations against licensure.
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