Hawaii’s Auditor Produces Some of the Nation’s Strongest Sunrise Reports 


of Requests Sought New Licenses


of Reviews Recommended New Licenses 


Reports from 1985 to 2017 

  • 44 Reviews
  • 37 Unique Occupations
  • 6 Sets of Repeat Reviews 
  • Regularly Produces Sunrise Reports 1

Hawaii has long produced some of the nation’s most in-depth sunrise reports. Though Hawaii’s sunrise law is weak in some respects, it is strong in others. Moreover, the state’s reviewer, the Office of the Auditor, is largely shielded from political interference. 

Hawaii enacted its sunrise law, which covers both health and non-health occupations, in 1977, making it one of the nation’s oldest. Sunrise review in Hawaii is triggered by the introduction of regulatory legislation. After a bill is introduced proposing new regulation of an occupation, it is referred to Office of the Auditor, which was created specifically for the purpose of conducting reviews of government operations and proposals without pressure from other executive, legislative or nongovernment entities. In the sunrise context, the auditor is tasked with identifying the probable effects of proposed regulations and evaluating whether their enactment would be consistent with the policy goal of ensuring regulations protect the public from harm, not occupations from competition. The law sets no time limit for the auditor’s review. 

The auditor is guided in his or her task by the law’s policy statement, which states that “[t]he regulation and licensing of professions and vocations shall be undertaken only where reasonably necessary to protect the health, safety, or welfare of consumers of the services; the purpose of regulation shall be the protection of the public welfare and not that of the regulated profession or vocation.” 

Hawaii’s sunrise law does not suggest that reviews consider previous or ongoing efforts to address the potential harm identified. Nor does it suggest that reviews consider whether proposed regulations are narrowly tailored to that harm. And it does not require the auditor to recommend, or the Legislature to enact, the least restrictive regulation. However, the law does specify that the auditor should recommend, and the Legislature should enact, regulation only if is “reasonably necessary to protect the health, safety, or welfare of consumers” and “when the health, safety, or welfare of the consumer may be jeopardized by the nature of the service offered by the provider.” 

Both the auditor and the Legislature are also supposed to “accord[] great weight” to evidence of past harm “in determining whether regulation is desirable” as well as to consider whether regulations would unreasonably restrict entry into occupations, artificially increase the costs of goods and services, and be self-funding. 

Although Hawaii’s sunrise law does not require the most detailed inquiries among the states, it has other strengths, requiring careful consideration of past harms from an occupation as well as regulation’s costs. Those requirements together with the state’s uniquely independent reviewer may explain the highly rigorous nature of the state’s reports in our dataset. 

Haw. Rev. Stat. §§ 26H-1 to -7 

Licensure Was Frequently Sought and Enacted Despite Few Licensure Recommendations 

Summary of Hawaii’s Sunrise Reviews, 1985–2017 

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

Athletic Trainers
Crane Operator Apprentices
Crane Operators
Genetic Counselors
Judges, Mixed Martial Arts
Managers, Mixed Martial Arts
Matchmakers, Mixed Martial Arts
Professional Counselors *
Respiratory Therapists *
Seconds, Mixed Martial Arts
Social Workers, Bachelor *
Social Workers, Masters *
Social Workers, Senior *
Timekeepers, Mixed Martial Arts

 *Multiple recommendations against licensure.