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popular at the state level in the 1970s and early 1980s, sunset laws have produced mixed results, and many states have repealed ineffective sunset legislation.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.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Iran could agree to an extension of the sunset provisions for 10 to 15 years, as well as to limit rockets, missiles, and military infrastructure in Syria and Lebanon, reducing the prospect of a wider regional war between Israel and Iran.
Bullock also opposes the sunset provision. While the amendment had the votes to pass out of committee, he said, he believes the majority of the council opposes tacking a time limit onto the bill.
Proposal Aims To Remove Sunset Provisions Now in Program
With "sunset provision," Pattison shifted toward the elision of living and work space--or perhaps more accurately, to living space as an extension of work space.
Legislation creating NARAB was reported out by the House Financial Services Committee without the sunset provision June 20.
In this article, we focus on a particular procedural reform in a particular context: the sunset provision adopted in Korea in 1997.
This is because a sunset provision causes the law to return to its presunset state--that is, to return to the policy choices of prior "generations" of lawmakers.
State statutes, however, do not include a sunset provision for approvals that become inactive in subsequent years.
Qualified farmers have been able to purchase such equipment without paying tax since 2000, but a 2005 legislative update to the tax exemption included a five-year sunset provision.
EGTRRA contains a sunset provision, which essentially returns the federal estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer taxes to their pre-EGTRRA form beginning in 2011.
If the sunset provision holds, Arizona would join North Carolina and Ohio, which have recently singled out payday shops for a clampdown.
When the New York state legislature gave control of the New York City schools to the mayor in 2002, a sunset provision was included, with a deadline of June 2009.