Lawmakers defer the adoption of regulations to the appropriate state agency implementing the legislative program. The agency begins the adoption process by engaging in preliminary rulemaking activities. At this point, the agency has the discretion to include the public during the rulemaking process. Soliciting comments from the public about a regulation is an obvious means of serving voters and their needs.
A regulation is defined in Government Code section 11342.600:
“Regulation means every rule, regulation, order, or standard of general application or the amendment, supplement, or revision of any rule, regulation, order, or standard adopted by any state agency to implement, interpret, or make specific the law enforced or administered by it, or to govern its procedure.”
While an agency has the discretion to include the public during this stage of the rulemaking process, there are circumstances where it may only involve parties who would be subject to the proposed regulations. For example, if a proposed rulemaking action involves proposals that are complex or voluminous that may not easily be reviewed during the comment period, the agency may limit public involvement.
Under the APA, the public must be given a minimum 45-day period to submit written comments regarding the proposed regulation. The notice of proposed action specifies the rulemaking agency name, contact person, and address where the comments must be directed and the date that the written comment period ends. Members of the public should submit written comments related to rulemaking only to the agency involved.
The APA provides any rulemaking agency with the option to conduct a public hearing on a proposed rulemaking action. If an agency does not schedule a public hearing, any interested person may submit a written request for a hearing. Such request must be submitted at least 15 days prior to the close of the written public comment period.
If timely requested, the agency must hold a public hearing scheduled on a date at least 45 days after the notice of the proposed action was published. Written and oral comments must be accepted at the public hearing.
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