Sunrise review reports

Reports

The sunrise review process

Introduction and background

In Washington State, the Department of Licensing makes recommendations to the Legislature on business profession credentialing proposals. This is done only at the request of the chairs of legislative committees. The process is called a “sunrise review” and requirements are contained in RCW 18.118.030.

The legislature’s intent is that all individuals should be permitted to enter into a business profession unless there is an overwhelming need for the state to protect the interests of the public by restricting entry. In addition, changes of existing licensed practitioner’s scope of practice should benefit the public. Enhancement of professional status alone is not justification for regulation.

The Sunrise Act (RCW 18.118.01) states that a business profession should be regulated or scope of practice expanded only when:

  • Unregulated practice can clearly harm or endanger the health, safety or welfare of the public, and the potential for the harm is easily recognizable and not remote or dependent upon tenuous argument.
  • The public needs and can reasonably be expected to benefit from an assurance of initial and continuing professional ability.
  • The public cannot be effectively protected by other means in a more cost-beneficial manner.

If the legislature finds that it is necessary to regulate a business profession not previously regulated by law, the least restrictive method of regulation should be implemented, consistent with the public interest.

In fulfilling our role as advisor to the legislature, our recommendations are not limited to whether the applicant group should be credentialed and the level of credentialing. We are free to recommend on other portions of the proposal. Examples are:

  • Whether the applicant group should be combined with other credentialed or applicant groups.
  • Whether the proposed scope of practice should be broadened or narrowed.
  • Whether the proposed licensing board or other proposed regulatory entity is appropriate and represents consumer interests.
  • Whether there are specific changes to the text of any proposed legislation.
  • Whether other types of regulation are more appropriate.

The sunrise review process

The legislature annually notifies us of the proposals to review. We contact the applicant to describe the sunrise process. The actual review process doesn’t begin until the applicant submits the applicant report to us. The conclusion of the process is our final report to the legislature, which is advisory only. No specific legal rights are granted or taken away because of the sunrise process. We are under no obligation to support a given legislative proposal even if our sunrise review supports that state regulation is needed.

Submission of the applicant report

The applicant report should be submitted by August 1 in order for us to complete our review in time for the next legislative session. If needed, the applicant may request a meeting with our staff to receive clarification about expectations for the applicant report and specifics of the particular proposal.

A concise, narrative format is encouraged. In order for us to conduct a quality review of the proposal, the applicant report needs to demonstrate that the proposal meets the sunrise standards and provide other information related to both the statutory criteria and issues raised by us in correspondence with the applicant. See the factors the applicant group needs to include in their report.

We’ll endeavor to review each proposal following the timeline detailed in these guidelines. However, any deviation, including those caused by the applicant or us, doesn’t invalidate the process.

We’ll give the applicant follow-up questions and comments within 14 days after receipt of the applicant report. The applicant will be given 14 days to respond to any written questions or concerns raised about the applicant report.

Interested party participation and public hearing

We’ll send out the applicant report and notice of hearing to all interested parties. Interested parties are invited to submit written comments prior to the hearing, after the hearing, and after the report has been drafted.

A public hearing will be held approximately 40 days after the applicant report is received. A public hearing is intended to take testimony from interested parties and gather information for department recommendations. The applicant makes a presentation of information contained in the applicant report and other information within the scope of the review.

Interested parties may provide verbal or written testimony, which will be included in the final report to the legislature. There will be a 10-day open comment period following the public hearing for interested parties or the applicant to provide additional information in writing.

Department Report

The Department Report will consist of:

  • Background on the proposal.
  • Our findings based on rationale.
  • Our advisory recommendations.

The report will summarize comments submitted during the process. We intend to represent the full range of ideas and opinions available, not to individually represent every statement received. This means an individual’s letter may not necessarily be quoted or reproduced, but it does mean all viewpoints are taken into consideration during the formulation of recommendations.

Participants will have 10 days to respond to the draft report. This allows the opportunity for rebuttals or corrections to the record. Rebuttal statements are to be limited to 250 words and address only our recommendations. The draft is then reviewed, modified, and approved by our Director. The final report is transmitted via the Office of Financial Management to the Legislature and copies are sent to interested parties and the applicant. Unedited versions of rebuttal statements, if any, will be appended to the report.

Definitions

Applicant group
Any business professional group or organization, any individual, or any other interested party, which proposes that any business professional group be credentialed for the first time, change their level of credentialing, or increase their scope of practice.
Applicant group report
The written document from the applicant group submitted to the department responding to the review criteria contained in RCW 18.118.030.
Interested parties
Any individual or organization that may be impacted by, or wish to express an opinion on, a proposal to create or change a regulatory program.
Certification
A voluntary process by which the state grants recognition to an individual who has met certain qualifications. A non-certified person may perform the same tasks, but may not use “certified” in the title. A certified person is subject to the Uniform Regulation of Business and Professions Act (Chapter 18.235 RCW).
Credentialing
The formal state recognition of a profession through registration, certification or licensure.
Department
The Washington State Department of Licensing, Post Office Box 9020, Olympia, Washington 98507-9020, Phone: 360.902.3600.
Harm
Physical, emotional, mental, social, or financial impairment resulting from the functions rendered or failed to be rendered by the group seeking regulation. Harm also includes the potential for fraudulent practice should a group not be regulated.
Legislative committee
The standing legislative committee designated to consider business professions regulation proposals.
Licensure
Generally viewed as the most rigorous regulatory model, it is a method of regulation by which the state grants permission to persons who meet predetermined qualifications to engage in a business profession, which would otherwise be unlawful in the absence of the permission. Licensure protects the scope of practice and the title. A licensee is subject to the Uniform Regulation of Business and Professions Act (Chapter 18.235 RCW).
Office of Financial Management
The Office of Financial Management (OFM) in the Office of the Governor is responsible for reviewing all reports from agencies to the Legislature. The department’s sunrise review reports must be approved by OFM.
Public disclosure
In accordance with RCW 42.56 (Public Records), written material developed in the course of a review is available for public inspection and copying.
Registration
The least rigorous process. It is a process by which the state maintains an official roster of names and addresses of the practitioners in a given profession; the location, nature and operation of the business activity practiced; and, if required, a description of the service provided. A registrant is subject to the Uniform Regulation of Business and Professions Act (Chapter 18.235 RCW).
Scope of practice
The types of procedures, service or tasks a professional may legally perform.
Sunrise Standards
The standards applied by the sunrise statute to determine when a business profession should be regulated:
  1. Unregulated practice can clearly harm or endanger the health, safety or welfare of the public, and the potential for harm is easily recognizable and not remote or based on tenuous argument.
  2. The public needs and can reasonably be expected to benefit from an assurance of initial and continuing professional ability.
  3. The public cannot be effectively protected by other means in a more cost-beneficial manner.
Uniform Regulation of Business and Professions
State law Chapter 18.235 RCW that provides for the basis to discipline practitioners and specify what sanctions are available to disciplinary authority.

Approximate timeline for sunrise review

Day Action
Day 1 Applicant report is received.
Day 5 Applicant report and hearing notice are distributed to interested parties.
Days 5-14 We review applicant report and prepare follow-up questions for applicant.
Days 14-28 Applicant prepares responses to supplemental questions.
Days 2-40 Our staff conduct necessary independent research on proposal. Interested parties review applicant report and submit written comments.
Day 40 Approximate date of public hearing.
Days 40-50 Public comment period on hearing information.
Day 75 We circulate draft report to interested parties for “rebuttal”
Day 85 Rebuttal statements due.
Days 85-111 Director of Department of Licensing reviews and approves final draft.
Day 111 Department Report submitted to Office of Financial Management.
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