What is Sunset?

by Sue Clark
Lobbyist, Capitol Edge Consulting

The idea of placing a 10-year limit on regulatory agencies dates back to President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1940s). In 1979 Illinois enacted the “Regulatory Sunset Act” (5 ILCS 80) which affects all licensed professions in the State.

The purpose of the law is to provide oversight and regulatory accountability for the numerous licensed agencies, programs, and professions in Illinois. Sunset provides a system for the termination or continuation of such agencies, programs, or professions. Regulatory accountability for licensed professionals rests within the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, Division of Professional Regulation. The regulatory power granted to the agency is to protect the public health, safety, or welfare of the citizens of Illinois. To that extent the Act (5 ILCS 80) requires that the regulation of professions and occupations be reviewed by the Governor and the General Assembly every ten years.

The process:

  • The Office of Management and Budget studies the performance of the regulatory agency and submits a report to the Governor with a recommendation as to continue or terminate the regulation of the specific profession. Key considerations include whether or not the profession is being administered in a nondiscriminatory manner and is regulated in the public interest.
  • The Governor then determines whether to recommend continuation of the regulatory agency or profession to the General Assembly. The Governor
  • must consider if the absence of regulation would significantly harm or endanger the public health, safety or welfare of the public; the relationship between the State’s police power and the protection of the public health, safety or welfare of the public, and whether or not the cost of regulation of a profession is more harmful to the public than harm which could result from the absence of regulation; and whether all facets of the regulatory process are designed solely for the purpose of, and have as their primary affect, the protection of the public.
  • The General Assembly then has the authority to revise, reaffirm or ‘sunset’ (terminate) the profession, program, or agency being reviewed. The Nursing and Advanced Practice Nursing Act is one of several that will undergo Sunset review in 2017. Others include: Podiatric Medical Practice Act and the Physician Assistant Act. Although, rules for administration of practice acts can be amended at any point in time, Sunset is the key time when legislators can evaluate how a profession is regulated.