2011 Sunset Reviews Conducted by Standing Committees

2011 Sunset Reviews


By law, a number of entities, functions, and boards within Colorado government are scheduled to terminate each July. Under the Colorado sunset review process, the entities and functions scheduled for termination on July 1, 2011, will be reviewed by Senate committees of reference in the coming months. This web site provides:

  • a discription of the sunset review process;
  • a list of entities, functions, and boards scheduled for review;
  • the criteria considered in the extension of an entity or function of Colorado government; and
  • the options available to a committee of reference in making recommendations to the General Assembly after conducting sunset hearings.



Sunset Process Allows General Assembly to Review Regulatory Functions


Generally, a sunset law is a law that automatically terminates a state regulatory agency, board, or function of government on a certain date. A state legislature must act to continue the entity or function by passing a bill. Sunset laws cause legislatures to periodically review the need for state regulation or for advisory committees and to update the law creating the entity or function. These reviews seek to balance the need for regulation to protect the public interest with the need to ensure that industry and professions are not over-regulated.

In Colorado, the task of conducting sunset reviews is assigned to committees of reference of the General Assembly. Senate committees conduct sunset reviews for the entities and functions scheduled to terminate in 2011.


(Senate committees conduct sunset reviews for entities with sunset dates in odd-numbered years; House committees conduct sunset reviews for entities with sunset dates in even-numbered years.)



Executive Branch Conducts Initial Review of Entities and Functions


The Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) serves as the executive branch department responsible for conducting a study of the entity or government function prior to the legislative sunset hearings.  DORA produces a "sunset report" by October 15 for each entity and function scheduled to sunset on the following July 1. This sunset report describes the history of the entity, examines the laws which created the entity, and makes recommendations regarding changes to the law and continuation of the entity.



General Assembly Conducts Public Reviews of the Regulatory Functions


In conducting a sunset review, a legislative committee reviews recommendations from DORA concerning continuation of the entity or government function in question. The review is conducted at a public hearing that occurs after the report is published or at the beginning of the legislative session. The committee also takes testimony from interested members of the public and program administrators.



Evaluation and Review of Entities and Functions Is Based on Statutory Criteria


Each entity and function scheduled for termination has the burden of demonstrating that a public need exists for its continued existence and that its regulation is the least restrictive regulation consistent with the public interest.  The determination as to whether a public need exists for the entity or function of government, and for the degree of regulation it practices, is based on the following factors, among others:

Whether regulation by the agency is necessary to protect the public health, safety, and welfare; whether the conditions that led to the initial regulation have changed; and whether other conditions have arisen that would warrent more, less, or the same degree of regulation;


If regulation is necessary, whether the existing statutes and regulations establish the least restrictive form of regulation consistent with the public interest, considering other available regulatory mechanisms, and whether agency rules enhance the public interest and are within the scope of legislative intent;


Whether the agency operates in the public interest and whether its operation is impeded or enhanced by existing statutes, rules, procedures, and practices and any other circumstances, including budgetary, resource, and personnel matters;


Whether an analysis of agency operations indicates that the agency performs its statutory duties efficiently and effectively;


Whether the composition of the agency's board or commission adequately represents the public interest and whether the agency encourages public participation in its decisions rather than participation only by the people it regulates;


The economic impact of regulation and, if national economic information is not available, whether the agency stimulates or restricts competition;


Whether complaint, investigation, and disciplinary procedures adequately protect the public and whether final dispositions of complaints are in the public interest or self-serving to the profession;


Whether the scope of practice of the regulated occupation contributes to the optimum utilization of personnel and whether entry requirements encourage affirmative action; and


Whether administrative and statutory changes are necessary to improve agency operations to enhance the public interest.


Committee of Reference Has Several Options for Recommendations


A committee of reference may recommend that an entity or function of government be continued or terminated. If the assigned committee believes that an entity or function should be continued, it recommends a bill with the recommendation to the full General Assembly. In addition to continuing the existence of the entity, the bill may also make adjustments to the area of the law establishing the entity. With the exception of advisory committees, entities, and functions of government may be continued for any time period up to 15 years. There is no similar limitation on the continuation of advisory committees.  

A standing committee recommends termination of an entity or function simply by not proposing legislation for its continuation. In the event that the General Assembly allows an entity or function of state government to terminate, the entity or function continues to exist for the next year for the purpose of "winding up affairs."  For example, if during the 2011 legislative session, an entity is allowed to terminate, it will "wind up" its affairs by one year after the specified termination date, or July 1, 2012. 


Sunset Bills Follow Procedures for Other Bills During Legislative Session


Any bills recommended at sunset hearings by committees of reference will be introduced in the Senate during the 2011 session and proceed through the normal legislative process. The President is required to assign the bills to the same committee that conducted the sunset hearing. The Senate committees of reference hold public hearings on the bills and may kill the bills or pass them on to the full Senate for second and third reading.


If the bill survives the Senate, the process is repeated in the House. After both the House of Representatives and the Senate adopt the bill, the bill is sent to the Governor for action. The Governor may sign the bill into law, veto the bill, or permit the bill to become law without a signature.