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popular at the state level in the 1970s and early 1980s, sunset laws have produced mixed results, and many states have repealed ineffective sunset legislation.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 ?
With an extension of the Sunset Clause, this effort will be retained and not be lost.
In addition, our revised approach to sunset clauses shows our commitment to ensuring future remedies aren t kept in place any longer than required.
Iran will keep much of its nuclear infrastructure and, after the sunset clause expires, it has the freedom to ramp up its activities.
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 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.
But look back to the recent reduction in VAT and the little-used sunset clause in the policy, which stated an end date to that cut and a return from 15% to 17.
She also echoed the sentiment of many speakers that paralegals expect the voluntary FRP program to become mandatory at some point, adding, "Many of us viewed the sunset clause ending as the time period that mandatory could be discussed.
But Vaughn from Unite for Strength countered that the sunset clause guarantees that new-media provisions will be renegotiated in 2011.
In December last year a review of that law made a no-change recommendation to the US Congress, which otherwise would have had to act in accord with a 2012 sunset clause in the 2004 Act.