Administrative Procedures Act (APA)
Overview of Rhode Island Administrative Rulemaking
The Rhode Island Administrative Procedures Act (APA, RIGL §42-35-1, et seq.) governs agency rulemaking, including how state agencies propose and promulgate regulations. Every state rulemaking entity, unless exempt under statute (the legislature and judiciary are exempt per RIGL §42-35-1(1)), is subject to the APA.
The purposes of the APA include:
Certain types of rulemaking do not fall under “regular rulemaking.” These include emergency rulemaking (RIGL §42-35-2.10 - State agencies may take prompt regulatory action in instances of imminent peril to the public or loss of federal funding) and direct final rules (RIGL §42-35-2.11 - State agencies may accelerate the rulemaking process for rules which are expected to be noncontroversial). These types of rulemaking can only be pursued in the specific circumstances, as determined by agency legal counsel and leadership.
In 2016, the R.I. General Assembly updated the APA requiring all regulatory agencies to codify and update their regulations. The new law requires all regulations to be reformatted, indexed, and published online on the Secretary of State website as the Rhode Island Code of Regulations (RICR). In addition, the law requires that all state agencies repeal outdated or obsolete rules and consolidate and amend regulations to improve the clarity of the requirements.
State agencies must use a prescribed process for creating regulations. Agencies must designate a rules coordinator (RIGL §42-35-2.1) who is responsible for managing the rulemaking process. Most rulemaking will fall under "regular rulemaking", which under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) requires notice and comment. The steps of the rulemaking process include:
Step 1: Regulatory Preparation and Analysis
Step 2: Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (optional step)
Step 3: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Public Comment Period
Step 4: Finalizing Regulations and Filing with the Office of the Secretary of State
The announcements of the most current notice of proposed rules and regulations, scheduled public hearings, and final regulations are linked below: