For almost 10 years, South Carolina produced thorough sunrise reports thanks to an agency called the State Reorganization Commission. However, the General Assembly repealed the commission in the late 1990s. It has not produced any new sunrise reports since.
South Carolina enacted its sunrise law, which covers both health and non-health occupations, in 1988. Under the law, 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 (89%) of the bills.
After a bill proposing new regulation of an occupation is introduced, the bill is supposed to be referred to the relevant subcommittee. Prior to SRC’s repeal, the subcommittee then had three options: It could (1) conduct a public hearing and evaluate the need for regulation itself; (2) conduct the hearing with special assistance from SRC and ask SRC to produce a report with its analysis; or (3) request that SRC conduct the hearing itself, carry out a review of the proposed regulation, and produce a written report with its findings and a recommendation. All of the South Carolina reports in our dataset were produced according to the third option.
For its sunrise reviews, SRC was tasked with evaluating whether regulation was justified by a “clear and recognizable danger to the health, safety, or welfare of the public” posed by unregulated practice of the occupation. This is a moderate standard of harm. SRC also had to consider a regulation’s costs to consumers and possible benefits and ascertain whether existing laws and regulations were sufficient to protect the public. To these ends, SRC was required to gather evidence from regulation proponents and any other parties affected by regulation during the hearing. It was also required to conduct its own research. The law set no time limit for SRC’s review.
If SRC concluded new regulation was necessary, South Carolina’s sunrise law required it to recommend the least restrictive regulation that would protect the public. To guide that determination, the law provides a menu of regulatory options, beginning with less restrictive measures such as civil causes of action and criminal penalties, inspections, and registration; the law also specifies that licensure is only appropriate where other regulations are insufficient. The law does not require the General Assembly to enact least restrictive regulations, however.
South Carolina’s sunrise law requires less in-depth reviews than the laws of some other states. Nevertheless, the state’s reports in our dataset are highly rigorous, consistently using independent research and analysis to understand occupations and the need, or lack thereof, for regulation. Since repealing SRC in 1998, South Carolina has not produced any new sunrise reports, though its sunrise law remains on the books.
Licensure Was Frequently Sought but Infrequently Recommended or Enacted
Summary of South Carolina’s Sunrise Reviews, 1989–1997
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. “Other request” includes a review where there was no request.
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.