ADOPTION, AMENDMENT, AND REPEAL OF REGULATIONS
An agency wishing to adopt, amend, or repeal regulations must first publish in the Virginia Register a notice of intended regulatory action; a basis, purpose, substance and issues statement; an economic impact analysis prepared by the Department of Planning and Budget; the agency’s response to the economic impact analysis; a summary; a notice giving the public an opportunity to comment on the proposal; and the text of the proposed regulation.
Following publication of the proposal in the Virginia Register, the promulgating agency receives public comments for a minimum of 60 days. The Governor reviews the proposed regulation to determine if it is necessary to protect the public health, safety and welfare, and if it is clearly written and easily understandable. If the Governor chooses to comment on the proposed regulation, his comments must be transmitted to the agency and the Registrar no later than 15 days following the completion of the 60-day public comment period. The Governor’s comments, if any, will be published in the Virginia Register. Not less than 15 days following the completion of the 60-day public comment period, the agency may adopt the proposed regulation.
The Joint Commission of Administrative Rules (JCAR) or the appropriate standing committee of each house of the General Assembly may meet during the promulgation or final adoption process and file an objection with the Registrar and the promulgating agency. The objection will be published in the Virginia Register. Within 21 days after receipt by the agency of a legislative objection, the agency shall file a response with the Registrar, the objecting legislative body, and the Governor.
When final action is taken, the agency again publishes the text of the regulation as adopted, highlighting all changes made to the proposed regulation and explaining any substantial changes made since publication of the proposal. A 30-day final adoption period begins upon final publication in the Virginia Register.
The Governor may review the final regulation during this time and, if he objects, forward his objection to the Registrar and the agency. In addition to or in lieu of filing a formal objection, the Governor may suspend the effective date of a portion or all of a regulation until the end of the next regular General Assembly session by issuing a directive signed by a majority of the members of the appropriate legislative body and the Governor. The Governor’s objection or suspension of the regulation, or both, will be published in the Virginia Register. If the Governor finds that changes made to the proposed regulation have substantial impact, he may require the agency to provide an additional 30-day public comment period on the changes. Notice of the additional public comment period required by the Governor will be published in the Virginia Register.
The agency shall suspend the regulatory process for 30 days when it receives requests from 25 or more individuals to solicit additional public comment, unless the agency determines that the changes have minor or inconsequential impact.
A regulation becomes effective at the conclusion of the 30-day final adoption period, or at any other later date specified by the promulgating agency, unless (i) a legislative objection has been filed, in which event the regulation, unless withdrawn, becomes effective on the date specified, which shall be after the expiration of the 21-day objection period; (ii) the Governor exercises his authority to require the agency to provide for additional public comment, in which event the regulation, unless withdrawn, becomes effective on the date specified, which shall be after the expiration of the period for which the Governor has provided for additional public comment; (iii) the Governor and the General Assembly exercise their authority to suspend the effective date of a regulation until the end of the next regular legislative session; or (iv) the agency suspends the regulatory process, in which event the regulation, unless withdrawn, becomes effective on the date specified, which shall be after the expiration of the 30-day public comment period and no earlier than 15 days from publication of the readopted action.
Proposed regulatory action may be withdrawn by the promulgating agency at any time before the regulation becomes final.
FAST-TRACK RULEMAKING PROCESS
Section 2.2-4012.1 of the Code of Virginia provides an exemption from certain provisions of the Administrative Process Act for agency regulations deemed by the Governor to be noncontroversial. To use this process, Governor’s concurrence is required and advance notice must be provided to certain legislative committees. Fast-track regulations will become effective on the date noted in the regulatory action if no objections to using the process are filed in accordance with § 2.2-4012.1.
If an agency demonstrates that (i) there is an immediate threat to the public’s health or safety; or (ii) Virginia statutory law, the appropriation act, federal law, or federal regulation requires a regulation to take effect no later than (a) 280 days from the enactment in the case of Virginia or federal law or the appropriation act, or (b) 280 days from the effective date of a federal regulation, it then requests the Governor’s approval to adopt an emergency regulation. The emergency regulation becomes operative upon its adoption and filing with the Registrar of Regulations, unless a later date is specified. Emergency regulations are limited to addressing specifically defined situations and may not exceed 12 months in duration. Emergency regulations are published as soon as possible in the Register.
During the time the emergency status is in effect, the agency may proceed with the adoption of permanent regulations through the usual procedures. To begin promulgating the replacement regulation, the agency must (i) file the Notice of Intended Regulatory Action with the Registrar within 60 days of the effective date of the emergency regulation and (ii) file the proposed regulation with the Registrar within 180 days of the effective date of the emergency regulation. If the agency chooses not to adopt the regulations, the emergency status ends when the prescribed time limit expires.
The foregoing constitutes a generalized statement of the procedures to be followed. For specific statutory language, it is suggested that Article 2 (§ 2.2-4006 et seq.) of Chapter 40 of Title 2.2 of the Code of Virginia be examined carefully.