State agencies now can use streamlined approach for 'consensus rules'

As of October 1, state regulatory agencies are getting a dose of "regulatory reform."

Under a law passed this year amending the State Administrative Procedure Act (SAPA), agencies will be able to use a streamlined approach for adopting "consensus rules." The bill was sponsored by Senator Michael Balboni and Assemblyman Roberto Ramirez.

Agencies already have the authority to do minimal regulatory impact assessments when they propose "minor" rulemakings, and when they act to repeal rules that have been overturned by statute or court decisions or otherwise have outlived their usefulness.

Under Chapter 210 of 1998, this streamlined approach will now apply to any proposed regulation if an agency believes that there will be no public objections to its adoption.

Agencies still must wait 45 days after the State Register notice of a "consensus rule" before final adoption. Unless objections are received, an agency is not required to prepare regulatory impact statements, regulatory flexibility analysis or rural area impact analysis for a proposed "consensus rule."

Likewise, agencies will not be required to hold public hearings on a proposed consensus rule, unless a hearing is explicitly required by law.

All agencies and types of rulemakings are covered by this new law, except for actions defined as "major changes" under the Public Service Law.

"This is a good thing," said Ken Pokalsky, The Business Council's director of Environmental and Regulatory Programs. "For years, we have supported efforts that refocus SAPA away from minutia and onto proposals with significant impacts on business."

The Council will review all proposed consensus rules to see if they raise significant issues for member companies.

October 1, 1998