Sunset Provision

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Sunset Provision

A statutory provision providing that a particular agency, benefit, or law will expire on a particular date, unless it is reauthorized by the legislature.

Federal and state governments grew dramatically in the 1950s and 1960s. Many Executive Branch administrative agencies were established to oversee government programs. The escalation of government budgets and the perception that government bureaucracy was not accountable led Congress and many state legislatures in the 1970s to enact "sunset" laws.

Sunset laws state that a given agency will cease to exist after a fixed period of time unless the legislature reenacts its statutory charter. Sunset provisions differ greatly in their details, but they share the common belief that it is useful to compel the Congress or a state legislature to periodically reexamine its delegations of authority and to assess the utility of those delegations in the light of experience.

There are two types of sunset provisions. In some instances the statute creating a particular Administrative Agency contains a sunset provision applicable only to that agency. In other instances a state may enact a general sunset law that may eliminate any agency that is unable to demonstrate its effectiveness.

Sunset provisions have had a checkered history. Although they were popular at the state level in the 1970s and early 1980s, sunset laws have produced mixed results, and many states have repealed ineffective sunset legislation. Few agencies have been terminated under sunset provisions, in part because agencies develop constituents who do not want the service to end. In addition, the cost of disbanding agencies and reassigning work can be expensive.

Attempts to pass a federal sunset law in the 1990s, which would have required formal reauthorization of federal programs every ten years, were unsuccessful. Advocates of accountability have abandoned the idea of "sunsetting" agencies and have sought to strengthen agency reauthorization requirements by incorporating rigorous performance measurements and enforcing appropriate discipline in government.

In addition to their application to government agencies, sunset provisions have been applied to laws themselves and to benefits, such as immigration benefits. Without reauthorization by the legislature, the law or benefit ceases on a particular date.

References in periodicals archive ?
A sunset clause set to expire upon repayment of the construction bonds would demonstrate that the toll was meant only for construction.
We are requesting DSP to start with rate reduction and put end to Virtual Print Fee and eventually go to a sunset clause," he added.
As for the wretched sunset clause, those not well versed with the eccentricities of English law do not understand that this is a statutory mechanism that has limitations peculiar to the British constitution which is famously unwritten -- not in one document that is.
It is a fair question to ask why the government inserted the sunset clause in the law, if it intended to extend the law.
With an extension of the Sunset Clause, this effort will be retained and not be lost.
The UPA government had extended the sunset clause by a year but current thinking in the government is the provision for the tax holiday should be made available to investors for another five years in order to create a more stable investment environment in the power sector.
In 2010, the ANA House of Delegates removed the sunset clause from the escalator policy allowing these changes in the ANA Assessment Factor to continue.
King is considering adding a sunset clause to evaluate the success of the measure after it has been in place for a period of time.
In June 2010, the HOD removed the sunset clause allowing these changes in the ANA Assessment Factor to continue.
A sunset clause means the vote has to be held before the end of 2014.
and it will not be brought forward for the next 12 months, there is no sunset clause to this Bill so this legislation could be used to that effect.
Indeed, the previous provisions included a three-year review and a five-year sunset clause as a way to protect Canadian civil liberties.