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popular at the state level in the 1970s and early 1980s, sunset laws have produced mixed results, and many states have repealed ineffective sunset legislation.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 ?
After the expiry of the sunset clause after three electoral cycles - 1979, 1985 and 1988 - the quota of reserved seats for women stood abolished.
Trade Representative's office denied that Lighthizer had softened his position on the sunset clause, without further elaboration.
These sales satisfy the "sunset clause" provision in the EU and maintain the ongoing validity of the European marketing authorization for Omidria, allowing Omeros continued flexibility in its partnering, sales and pricing strategies for Omidria throughout Europe.
Nevertheless, she said the Conservative group would back the Bill because it included a "sunset clause" on minimum pricing, meaning that unless regulations to extend the provision were introduced within six years of the Bill passing, minimum alcohol prices would automatically be scrapped.
Amendments include a "sunset clause" so devolved powers returned to Westminster do not stay there indefinitely.
The Chamber has requested the DSP to reduce rates, end Virtual Print Fee and go to a sunset clause.
The so-called "sunset clause" in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) means that in eight to ten years' time Iran could manufacture a nuclear bomb "within weeks." Addressing the foreign affairs committee of the European Parliament, Al-Jubeir said: "We believe the sunset provision is very dangerous.
The convicts had been sentenced to life imprisonment by a military court after being found in the killing of two Rangers personnel in Gilgit in 2005.Earlier, military courts were abolished on January 7, 2017, after the sunset clause had expired which sanctioned the military tribunals.Later, on March 31, 2017, President Mamnoon Hussain gave his formal assent to the both Pakistan Army Act 2017 and the 23rd Constitutional Amendment Bill that extended the powers vested to the military tribunals for another two years.
Whether the restrictions and commitments in the JCPOA endure beyond some date a decade or so from now will depend ultimately not on the wording of a sunset clause but rather on whether the parties to the agreement continue to see the bargain embodied in the agreement to be in their national interests.
Was it because Anastasiades wanted a sunset clause rather than a review in 15 years?
According to the sympathetic version, President Nicos Anastasiades went there with good intentions, but found that Turkey was unwilling to put down in writing its vague and general hints that it might consider a final date for the withdrawal of troops (the sunset clause).