The Minnesota sunrise reports in our dataset are lacking in independent research and meaningful analysis thanks to the state’s politicized process, which leaves room only for proponents’ input. They are also very few, and it is unclear why. We identified only six reports, covering eight reviews, from the state, all from between 2002 and 2009.
Minnesota enacted its sunrise law, covering health-related occupations, 2
in 1976, making it one of the nation’s oldest. Sunrise review is triggered by the introduction of regulatory legislation. 3
Within 15 days of the bill’s introduction, regulation proponents must submit a written explanation, termed a “report,” explaining the need for regulation; six of Minnesota’s eight reports were submitted by industry insiders.
After a bill is introduced proposing new regulation of an occupation, the bill is supposed to be referred to the relevant standing committee. As outlined in the law, the standing committee then asks the Council of Health Boards for feedback on the proposal. The Council’s response is, in effect, a sunrise review and report. Accordingly, this study counts the Council’s responses as sunrise reports.
Among the factors regulation proponents must address are the nature of the threat of harm posed by unregulated practice; why the particular regulation is being proposed and not a less restrictive form of regulation; the level of skill and training the occupation requires; and how the regulation would impact the entry of new workers into the field, the supply of workers and the costs of services to consumers. They must also address “why existing civil or criminal laws or procedures are inadequate to prevent or remedy any harm to the public” and must explain “whether practitioners of the occupation work without supervision or are supervised and monitored by a regulated institution or by regulated health professionals.”
The Council must evaluate a proposal according to four criteria: (1) “whether the unregulated practice of an occupation may harm or endanger the health, safety and welfare of citizens of the state and whether the potential for harm is recognizable and not remote,” which is a moderate standard; (2) “whether the practice of an occupation requires specialized skill or training and whether the public needs and will benefit by assurances of initial and continuing occupational ability”; (3) “whether the citizens of this state are or may be effectively protected by other means”; and (4) “whether the overall cost effectiveness and economic impact would be positive for citizens of the state.” The law also provides a menu of regulatory options, ranked from least to most restrictive. However, sunrise reviews are not required to recommend least restrictive regulations, and the Legislature is not required to enact them.
Despite Minnesota’s relatively robust review criteria, the Council’s reports are superficial, relying almost entirely on information supplied by regulation proponents. Yet such overreliance on proponents’ information is precisely the political problem that sunrise review is intended to mitigate. Moreover, half of the Council’s reviews offer no recommendations, making them less useful for the Legislature.
Licensure Was Frequently Sought and Enacted Despite Few Licensure Recommendations
Summary of Minnesota’s Sunrise Reviews, 2002–2009
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. Minnesota’s reports offer only “conclusions,” which we counted as recommendations where possible.
Occupations Licensed Without Supporting Recommendations
Sign up to receive IJ's biweekly digital magazine, Liberty & Law, along with breaking updates about our fight to protect the rights of all Americans.