Maine’s Sunrise Law Requires Thorough Reviews, But Reports Are Few 


of Requests Came from Industry


of Requests Sought New Licenses 


Reviews Recommended New Licenses 


Reports from 2000 to 2010 

  • 13 Reviews
  • 13 Unique Occupations
  • No Sets of Repeat Reviews 
  • Does not Regularly Produce Sunrise Reports 1

With fairly detailed review criteria, Maine’s sunrise law, on its face, might be expected to produce rigorous reports. However, the state’s reports are very few. For our dataset, we identified only nine reports, covering 13 reviews, from the state, all from between 2000 to 2010. 

Maine enacted its sunrise law, which covers both health and non-health occupations, in 1995, making it one of the most recent in our dataset. Sunrise review is initiated when proponents file an application proposing regulation of an occupation and regulatory legislation is introduced. 2 (This appears to happen concurrently.) Any interested party can file an application. However, most applications—62%—are filed by industry insiders. 

In Maine, sunrise review can be conducted by any of three reviewing bodies: (1) the joint standing committee of the Legislature to which the bill was referred, (2) the commissioner of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, at the standing committee’s request, or (3) a technical committee established by the commissioner, at the standing committee’s request. Applicants must pay up to $500 if the commissioner carries out the review and up to $1,000 if a technical committee does. This study considers only the commissioner’s independent reviews. 3

For his or her reviews, the commissioner considers information from the applicant and any other interested party, including regulation opponents. The commissioner is then required to independently evaluate the application based on the law’s criteria. Among these criteria are “the nature and extent of potential harm to the public if the profession or occupation is not regulated.” This is a low standard, though the commissioner also considers evidence of past harm in the form of complaints against practitioners filed with government agencies within the past five years. 

In addition, the commissioner is required to perform a cost-benefit evaluation, weighing the proposed regulation’s costs to consumers and the state against possible benefits, and to consider voluntary efforts by those working in an occupation to address the threat of harm as well as previous regulatory efforts by the state and evaluate whether they are working to protect the public. If the commissioner determines that new regulation is necessary, he or she must recommend the least restrictive method. To this end, Maine’s sunrise law provides a list of regulatory alternatives to licensure. 

The law sets no time limit for the commissioner’s independent reviews. 4 When ready, the commissioner must submit his or her final report to the standing committee that requested the evaluation. The Legislature is not required to follow the commissioner’s recommendations or, indeed, to enact least restrictive regulations. 

Despite its law requiring reports, Maine has not produced a report since 2010. Maine’s law encourages independent review, and the commissioner indeed proactively sought information on its own but focused on doing so from interested parties, not from skeptical or disinterested sources. 

Me. Stat. tit. 5, § 12015; Me. Stat. tit. 32, § 60-J, -K, -L 

Licensure Was Frequently Sought but Infrequently Recommended or Enacted 

Summary of Maines’s Sunrise Reviews, 2000–2010 

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 adopted 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. “Registration request” includes a request for a distinct registration scheme. 

Occupations Licensed Without Supporting Recommendations