Administrative Rules AFFECT YOU!
Administrative Rules -- The Other Half of Utah's Codified Law
Approximately one half of Utah's codified law is written by state agencies. Statements written by state agencies which have the effect of law are called administrative rules. Unlike statutes, which change only when the Legislature is in session, administrative rules change throughout the year. The Division of Administrative Rules received 917 rule filings for processing between July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2014, for an average of 3.7 rule filings each business day.
An agency cannot just go out and start writing rules. It must be authorized to regulate. Every year, the Legislature enacts over 400 laws to resolve problems that society is facing. In many instances, the Legislature assigns responsibility to oversee a new program to an administrative agency. During the 2014 General Session, 437 bills became law. Of those, Legislative staff identified 62 bills (14%) that required rulemaking.
Dual Purpose of Administrative Rules
An administrative rule serves at least two purposes. First, a properly enacted administrative rule has the binding effect of law. Therefore, a rule affects our lives as much as a statute passed by the legislature, restricting individuals AND the agency that issues it.
Second, an administrative rule is a messenger of sorts. It informs citizens of actions a state government agency will take or how a state agency will conduct its business. It provides citizens the opportunity to respond -- whether by providing public comment, or becoming involved in some other way.
Direct, Binding Effect
By their very nature, administrative rules have a direct effect on YOUR life and business. For example, there are administrative rules that govern:
- restrictions on burning, including the fire in your fireplace (Rule R307-302);
- the quality of the eggs you eat for breakfast (Rule R70-410);
- smoking in public places (Rule R392-510);
- used oil disposal requirements (Rule R315-15);
- lunch and break requirements that employers must follow (Section R610-2-3 (dealing with employment of minors), see also Subsection R610-3-2(H) (definition of "Hours employed")); and
- sales tax requirements (Rule R865-19S).
In fact, state agencies and state institutions are required to write administrative rules any time:
agency action: (a) authorizes, requires, or prohibits an action; (b) provides or prohibits a material benefit; (c) applies to a class of persons or another agency; and (d) is explicitly or implicitly authorized by statute. (Subsection 63G-3-201(2).)
The Messenger: Providing Critical Insight and an Opportunity to Participate
Administrative rules provide critical insight into how state government operates. State agencies write administrative rules detailing how the public may access records and services, and how to appeal administrative decisions. An administrative rule is the formal document an agency uses to inform citizens of its actions.
While administrative rules regulate and inform, administrative rules also provide opportunity for YOU to participate in state decision-making. That opportunity is the rulemaking process. State agencies are required to accept public comment about proposed rules, notify you if you have requested advance notice of rulemaking proceedings, and may also hold hearings on proposed rules.
What Affects You?
The challenge becomes finding out about the administrative rules that affect YOU. The Division provides access to all of its publications online. If you know that a particular state agency regulates an issue in which you are interested, you may contact that state agency and request to be added to a mailing list.