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popular at the state level in the 1970s and early 1980s, sunset laws have produced mixed results, and many states have repealed ineffective sunset legislation.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 ?
Legislation creating NARAB was reported out by the House Financial Services Committee without the sunset provision June 20.
It made permanent many of the provisions of the 2001 EGTRRA, repealed a number of sunset provisions contained therein, and permanently increased exemption levels of the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT).
In this article, we focus on a particular procedural reform in a particular context: the sunset provision adopted in Korea in 1997.
157) Interest groups who lobby for the scope and length of the sunset provision most favorable to their agenda exacerbate this problem.
27) The original sunset provision also included a grandfather clause which allowed it to continue to be effective with respect to investigations that began, or potential offenses that took place, before the provision's sunset date.
And if we need to establish demonstration projects, let's do so only if there is a sunset provision and a strong evaluation component.
The bill has a sunset provision to expire in three years.
However, because of the veto, the Dental Board of California (DBC) itself, as well as its Committee on Dental Auxiliaries, will cease to exist as of July 2008 when a sunset provision takes effect.
The exposure comes after regulators were urged by Tom Campbell, the long-time chair of the Washington-based American Academy of Actuaries VA CARVM work group and a life actuary with Hartford Life, as well as the American Council of Life Insurers, that the model be exposed and ultimately adopted so that what they believe is more effective regulation would be in place when a sunset provision of Actuarial Guideline 39 is triggered on Jan.
5970), which would extend expiring tax credits, repeal the sunset provision for the estate and generation-skipping taxes, and increase the minimum wage.
The act has been in place since 1988, and when it was first implemented, it contained a sunset provision that required it be reviewed every five years.