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A “sunset law” or “sunset provision” is a law that provides for the automatic termination of a government program, agency, or law on a certain date, unless the legislature affirmatively acts to renew it. Sunset laws were widely promoted in the United States in the 1970s as reform measures to eliminate bloated and unresponsive government bureaucracies. Political theorist Theodore Lowi, for example, touted sunset provisions as diminishing interest-group power over government programs and as promoting more active legislative oversight. Legislators would have to be convinced of the independence and efficacy of programs facing sunset provisions if these programs are to survive, and they would presumably not renew programs that were failing or that served only a few special interests.

In spite of support from prominent politicians ...

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