Home Law Constitutional Sunsets and Experimental Legislation: A Comparative Perspective
Problems at the Design or Enactment Level
(a) Deficient goals and evaluation criteria
In many of the early cases of sunset laws, no objectives were defined and, when there were review criteria, these were often methodologically deficient. Instead of solving these problems, these deficiencies contaminated sunset reviews in other US states since most sunset laws were inspired by the first of their kind enacted in Colorado and Florida.
The failure of sunset review of agencies in the 1980s in the United States can be partially explained by the fact that most sunset reviews were not conducted while taking into account whether the agency’s programme had been fulfilled and to what extent. The first sunset clauses employed in the late 1970s in the United States did not require the programmes to be evaluated or merely defined very broad public policy evaluation criteria (for example, ‘whether or not there is a reasonable relationship between the exercise of a state’s police power and the protection of the public health’). These pathologies undermined the original purposes of sunset clauses of offering legislative oversight and promoting programme effectiveness. In these cases, evaluators could not conclude whether a programme had been effective at the time of the sunset because they were not provided with the ‘measure of effectiveness’, in other words, the clear objectives to be attained.
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