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NO. 146. AN ACT RELATING TO ADMINISTRATIVE RULE-MAKING PROCEDURE.

(H.841)

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1. FINDINGS

The general assembly finds that:

(1) public participation in the rule-making process of state agencies is essential to the proper development of such rules;

(2) current procedures for accommodating public input vary among state agencies;

(3) the interagency committee on administrative rules has the ability to work with agencies at an early stage in the rule-making process, and should work with agencies to develop strategies to maximize public input.

Sec. 2. 3 V.S.A. § 800 is added to read:

§ 800. PURPOSE

The general assembly intends that:

(1) agencies maximize the involvement of the public in the development of rules;

(2) agency inclusion of public participation in the rule-making processes should be consistent;

(3) the general assembly should articulate, as clearly as possible, the intent of any legislation which delegates rule-making authority;

(4) when an agency adopts policy or procedures, it should not do so to supplant or avoid the adoption of rules.

Sec. 3. 3 V.S.A. § 820 is amended to read:

§ 820. INTERAGENCY COMMITTEE ON ADMINISTRATIVE RULES

(a) For assistance in the review, evaluation and coordination of programs and activities of state agencies, the development of strategies for maximizing public input, and the promotion of consistent measures among agencies for involving the public in the rule-making process, subject to the provisions of this chapter, an interagency committee on administrative rules is created. Members of the committee shall be appointed by the governor from the executive branch and shall serve at his or her pleasure.

(b) The duties and responsibilities of the committee shall be those established under this section or those directed by the governor and shall include review of existing and proposed rules of agencies designated by the governor for style, consistency with the law, legislative intent and the policies of the governor. The committee shall make reports and recommendations concerning programs and activities of designated agencies subject to this chapter.

(c) After a proposed rule is prefiled with the committee, the committee shall work with the agency and prescribe a strategy for maximizing public input on the proposed rule.

Sec. 4. 3 V.S.A. § 838 is amended to read:

§ 838. FILING OF PROPOSED RULES

(a) Proposed rules shall be filed with the secretary of state. The filing shall include the following:

(1) a cover sheet;

(2) an economic impact statement;

(3) an incorporation by reference statement, if the proposed rule includes an incorporation by reference;

(4) an adopting page;

(5) the text of the proposed rule; *[and]*

(6) an annotated text showing changes from existing rules;

(7) an explanation of the strategy for maximizing public input on the proposed rule as prescribed by the interagency committee on administrative rules; and

(8) a brief summary of the scientific information upon which the proposed rule is based to the extent the proposed rule depends on scientific information for its validity.

* * *

(g) The brief summary of scientific information shall refer to scientific studies upon which the proposed rule is based and shall explain the procedure for obtaining such studies from the agency.

Sec. 5. 3 V.S.A. § 840 is amended to read:

§ 840. PUBLIC HEARING AND COMMENT

(a) The agency may hold one or more public hearings for each proposed rule. A public hearing shall be scheduled if so requested by 25 persons, by a governmental subdivision or agency, by the interagency committee on administrative rules, or by an association having 25 or more members. The first hearing shall not be held sooner than 10 days following the second formal publication.

* * *

(d) The agency shall consider fully all written and oral submissions concerning the proposed rule, and all submissions on separate requirements for small businesses. The agency shall provide information to all individuals, who submitted written or oral comment, on the procedure for adoption of rules and how to obtain changes in the proposed rule.

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Sec. 6. 3 V.S.A. § 841(c) is amended to read:

(c) The legislative committee on administrative rules shall distribute copies of final proposed rules to *[the chairs]* all members of the *[appropriate]* standing committees which considered legislation delegating rule-making authority. *[In addition, each member of the appropriate standing committees shall be notified that the final proposed rule has been filed, the date of filing and, upon request, shall be provided with a copy of the filing.]*

Sec. 7. 1 V.S.A. § 312 is amended to read:

§ 312. RIGHT TO ATTEND MEETINGS OF PUBLIC AGENCIES

(a) All meetings of a public body are declared to be open to the public at all times, except as provided in section 313 of this title. No resolution, rule, regulation, appointment, or formal action shall be considered binding except as taken or made at such open meeting, except as provided under section 313(a)(2) of this title. A meeting may be conducted by audio conference or other electronic means, as long as the provisions of this subchapter are met. A public body shall record by audio tape, all hearings held to provide a forum for public comment on a proposed rule, pursuant to section 840 of Title 3. The public shall have access to copies of such tapes as described in section 316 of this title.

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Sec. 8. STUDY OF ADMINISTRATIVE RULES

(a) The legislative council is directed to undertake a sample review of administrative rules of state agencies, of the involvement of standing committees of the general assembly in the rule-making process, and of the current process for adoption of administrative rules. The council shall evaluate the effectiveness of the current process, study approaches other states’ legislatures have taken to address the perceived problems, and recommend changes for improvement of the current system.

(b) All agencies shall cooperate with the legislative council’s efforts to review information contemplated by this section. All agencies shall provide the legislative council notice or copies of all permanent, temporary, interim or emergency rules and the source of authority for the adoption of all such rules on request.

(c) The legislative council shall submit a report to the general assembly by January 1, 2001 which describes the results of the review and makes specific recommended changes.

Sec. 9. SECRETARY OF STATE

The secretary of state shall develop a plan for publishing all proposed rules, final proposed rules and adopted rules of all state agencies on the internet on the world wide web in a unified database searchable by a Boolean search system, or similar system, and by a table of all such rules, by agency. The secretary shall present this plan to the general assembly by January 1, 2001, which shall include a detailed estimate of the costs of implementing the plan by July 1, 2001.

Sec. 10. SUNSET

Sec. 6 of this act shall expire on May 1, 2002.

Approved: May 22, 2000