AN ACT TO AMEND VARIOUS ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURE LAWS.
Section 1.1 and 1.2
Changes the title of GS 150B-21.5 of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) to Circumstances when notice and rule-making hearing not required; circumstances when submission to the Commission not required.
Amends subsection (a) to provide that an agency is not required to publish a notice of text in the North Carolina Register, hold a public hearing, or submit the amended rule to the Rules Review Commission (Commission) for review (previously, did not except submission of the amended rule to the Commission for review) when the agency proposes to amend a rule to do one of the specified purposes in subsection (a). Provides changes to a few of the specified purposes for which notice, a public hearing, and submission to the Commission for review are not required, which include (1) when the rule is amended to change information that is readily available to the public, such as an address, telephone number, or a web site (previously, did not include a web site) and (2) when the rule is amended to correct a typographical error (previously, correct a typographical error in the North Carolina Administrative Code). Further, moves the sixth purpose excepted in subsection (a) to new subsection (a1) to provide that an agency is not required to publish a notice of text in the Register or hold a public hearing when it proposes to change the rule in response to a request or an objection by the Commission, unless the Commission determines that the change is substantial (note, not excepted from rule submission to the Commission in this circumstance).
Creates new subsection (e) to require any agency that adopts or amends a rule under subsection (a) or (c) of GS 150B-21.5 to notify the Codifier of Rules of its actions. Directs the Codifier of Rules to make the appropriate changes to the North Carolina Administrative Code when notified of such agency action.
Changes the title of GS 150B-21.20 of the APA to Codifier’s authority to revise rules.
Amends the Codifier of Rules authority to allow the Codifier, after consulting with the agency that adopted the rule, to revise a rule (previously, revise the form of a rule submitted for inclusion in the North Carolina Administrative Code) to do one or more of the specified objectives. Adds four objectives for which the Codifier may revise a rule: (1) to substitute one name for another when an organization or position is renamed; (2) to correct a citation in the rule to another rule or law when the citation has become inaccurate since the rule was adopted because of the repeal or renumbering of the cited rule or law; (3) to change information readily available to the public, such as an address, a telephone number, or a web site; or (4) to correct a typographical error.
Section 2.1 and 2.2
Divides existing GS 150B-22 (Settlement; contested case) into two subsections. Additionally, clarifies that a party or person aggrieved cannot be required to petition an agency for rule making or to seek or obtain a declaratory ruling before commencing a contested case under GS 150B-23 (provisions for commencement of a contested case). Makes conforming change to GS 150B-43 (Right to judicial review).
Makes the following changes to the Administrative Procedure Act concerning the periodic review and expiration of existing rules. Eliminates the distinction between rules that are necessary with substantive public interest or necessary without substantive public interest under the provisions of GS 150B-21.3A. Eliminates those defined terms in subsection (a), and instead defines necessary rule to mean any rule other than an unnecessary rule. Makes conforming changes throughout GS 150B-21.3A to remove any language distinguishing necessary rules with or without substantive public interest.
Additionally, amends the definition for public comment to include written comments objecting to an agency's determination of the rule as necessary or unnecessary received by an agency from any member of the public. Amends subsection (c) of GS 150B-21.3A, which sets out the review process an agency must conduct of its existing rules at least once every 10 years. Step 1 now requires the agency to evaluate all of its existing rules and submit a report to the Rules Review Commission that includes the agency’s initial determination of whether an existing rule is necessary or unnecessary, all public comments the agency received during the comment period to the agency’s initial determination, and the agency’s response to the public comment. Step 2 of the rule review process requires the Rule Review Commission (Commission) to review the agency reports required in Step 1. In its review, the Commission must determine whether a public comment to a rule that the agency determined to be unnecessary in Step 1 has merit, and if the Commission determines that the public comment has merit, then the Commission must designate the rule as necessary. Currently, a public comment only has merit if it addresses the specific substance of a rule and relates to any of the standards for review of a rule by the Commission under GS 150B-21.9(a) (the four standards for review are whether the rule is within the agency’s authority, whether the rule is clear and unambiguous, whether the rule is reasonably necessary, and whether the rule was adopted in accordance with Part 2 of Article 2A of GS Chapter 150B, Adoption of Rules). This act removes the requirement that the public comment has to relate to any of the standards for review by the Commission under GS 150B-21.9(a) to have merit for purposes of Step 2 of the rule review process under GS 150B-21.3A(c)(2). Makes conforming changes.
Makes organizational and technical changes to GS 150B-21.3A to combine subsections (e) and (e1), concerning exclusions from the statute's provisions. Makes conforming changes.
Section 3 applies to agency rule reports submitted to the Officer of Administrative Hearings pursuant to GS 150B-21.3A(c)(1) (Step 1 of the rule review process) on or after October 1, 2019.
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