Questions and Answers about Regulations
What are they?
Regulations are rules adopted by state agencies. Any government rule that affects the public or its rights must be adopted as a regulation. Regulations are different than statutes: regulations are laws adopted by a state agency to implement existing statutes and statutes are laws passed by the legislature.
How does a regulation become law?
Before a regulations can become law, it must follow a careful process that is outlined in statute. The agency has to decide if a regulation is "reasonably necessary" to carry out the purposes of a statute and that the agency has the legal authority to adopt the regulation. The process then includes drafting the proposal, sending it out for public comment, redrafting the proposal based on those comments, Department of Law (DOL) review and approval, and finally filing by the Lt. Governor. The process is laid out in the Administrative Procedures Act statutes.
How does the public comment work?
After drafting proposed regulations, the agency issues a public notice. In addition to printing the notice in local papers, the agency seeks out persons it believes will be interested in the proposal and notifies them directly. The public notice begins the public comment period, which must last at least 30 days. The agency will make changes to the proposal based on comments received, or if not, the agency must explain the reasons for not doing so.
Public comment is very important, especially when you don't like what's being proposed. Although the agency may not have a choice about writing regulations (such as when the legislature passes a new law directing the agency to write regulations), your input can make the regulations better.
How to comment effectively
There is no required format for you to follow. Your comments, however, do need to be in writing, addressed to the person listed in the Public Notice as the contact. You don't need to type them, as long as they are easy to read. Comments may be mailed, faxed, emailed, or hand delivered -- as long as they arrive before the comment period ends. You can find this date in the Public Notice.
- Be Brief. You don't want the reviewer to miss the point of your concern. Brevity assures that it won't be lost.
- Be Specific. Make it clear what you want. It is more effective to say "I am concerned about how this will affect small seafood processors because...", than "Don't do this."
- Know your subject. If you are commenting on a document, make sure you have read it so that your comments make sense and are accurate. Refer to the section numbers in the proposal, preferably in the order they appear.
- Be Honest and Realistic. Distortions of facts or misstatements may cause the reviewer to question the accuracy of your other statements. Requests that are not legal or feasible also reduce the credibility of your comments.
- Be Polite. Reviewers are human, too. Even though you may be upset about a proposal, try to state your opinion objectively. Remember that agencies write regulations to help people comply with statutes. Communication is increased by extending the courtesies to agencies that you expect from them.
Need more time to comment?
Do you feel the comment period is too short? Immediately contact the person named in the public notice in writing and request an extension. In many cases, the agency will be able to extend the deadline. Occasionally, however, there are other time considerations. The agency won't know that you need more time unless you tell it!