Guide to the RICR
- Pre Rule
- Public Notice/Public Comment Period Begin
- End of Public Comment Period
- Final Rule Filed and Effective Date Set
Pre Rule Stage
Beginnings of a rule
Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM)
An agency may choose to employ this optional step in the rulemaking process. The ANPRM allows an agency to gather information related to the potential rulemaking action by soliciting comments and recommendations from the public before publishing a proposed rule and notice of proposed rulemaking. The ANPRM indicates where, when, and how a person may submit a comment to the agency. (R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-35-2.5)
Preliminary evaluations and analysis
Before the rulemaking process begins, an agency must evaluate all alternative approaches, overlap or duplication with other statutes and regulations and whether the rule will have significant economic impact on small business.
Public Notice/Public Comment Period Begins
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)
After an agency researches the issues and determines whether a new rule is necessary, it often proposes the new language along with a notice of proposed rulemaking. Typically, these proposals are published in the Rhode Island Code of Regulations (RICR) and are readily accessible to the public. A notice of proposed rulemaking contains details about the proposed rule including its purpose, its statutory authority, and how the public can submit a comment or get further information about the proposed rule from the agency.
Public comment period
During this phase of the rulemaking process, agencies accept comments from the public about the proposed rule. Agencies may choose to accept comments through the RICR or by mail, fax, or email. If a public hearing is scheduled, the public can also submit comments via testimony at the hearing. In a typical case, an agency will allow 30 days for public comment; however, the agency may choose to set a comment period for longer than 30 days.
An agency may schedule one or more public hearings on a proposed rule. The date, time, and location of any scheduled public hearing will be listed in the notice of proposed rulemaking. A public hearing must be scheduled at least 10 days from the date the notice is published and at least 5 days before the comment period ends. An agency must also schedule a public hearing if the hearing is requested by 25 people or by an organization with at least 25 members. (R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-35-2.8)
End of Public Comment Period
Once the public comment period ends for a proposed rule, agency reviews all comments received and evaluates whether to make logical changes to the rule based on those comments. The agency also prepares a concise explanatory statement which includes its reasons for not incorporating changes suggested by the public and a description of any changes made between the text of the proposed rule and the text of the final rule filed with the Department of State.
Final Rule Filed and Effective Date Set
Once the agency has prepared the proposed rule in its final form, they file the final rule with the Department of State. The rule must be filed no later than 180 days after the end of the public comment period. Along with the final rule, the agency must file the associated documents in the rulemaking record with the Department of State for publication in the Rhode Island Code of Regulations. (R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-35-2.3)
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Rhode Island Code of Regulations (RICR)?
The Rhode Island Code of Regulations is the official publication of the regulations promulgated by Executive Branch agencies, boards and commissions. The Department of State Administrative Records Office manages the RICR, which is updated daily and available to the public on our website. Each regulation published in the RICR is given a unique citation which details the Title, Chapter, Subchapter and Part number for that regulation.
What is a regulation?
A regulation is a document issued by a State agency, board or commission which interprets or implements a law or prescribes policies or practices of the agency, board or commission. A regulation has the full force and effect of law.
How is a regulation different from a statute?
Statutes, also called laws, are enacted by governing bodies such as the Rhode Island General Assembly or the United States Congress. Statutes provide a State agency, board or commission the authority to publish regulations to interpret and enforce a certain area of the law. An agency may not enforce a regulation without statutory authority.
Who do I contact if I have a question about a regulation?
If your question relates to the language in a regulation or how the regulation is enforced, you should contact the agency who published the regulation. Each agency is required by law to appoint a Rules Coordinator who can answer your rule-related questions. To find contact information for an agency Rules Coordinator, visit that agency's Agency Info page. You can navigate to each Agency Info page from the RICR Table of Contents by clicking the Title number for the agency and then clicking the blue "View Agency Info" button.
If your question relates to the RICR or the rulemaking process, please contact the Department of State Administrative Records Office.
How do I find a regulation?
There are many ways to find a regulation in the RICR. You can browse an agency's regulations by exploring the Parts listed under an agency's Chapters and Subchapters in the RICR Table of Contents. You can also use the search feature to search for keywords or a specific RICR citation, if you know it. The search feature returns results for all regulations relating to the word or phrase you entered, including currently effective rules, proposed rules, emergency rules, and inactive rules.
How does the search feature work?
You can use the search feature in many ways to find the results you need. If you know the unique RICR citation for the regulation you are looking for, type the number into the search bar beneath the word “Keywords.” This will bring you directly to the currently active version of that Part. You can also search using a keyword, such as “fish,” “dentist” or “lobbying.” To find results which match your search term exactly, check the “Exact Match” box below the search bar before submitting your search request. The search function will not recognize a search for two different keywords at once (e.g., “fishing and hunting” will not search simultaneously for results containing both of those terms). The application scans the entire text of all regulations filed in the RICR and weights the results accordingly. Regulations which contain your keyword in the Part name will appear first, followed by regulations which contain your keyword in the full text of the Part. You can also use the tabs to navigate between active, emergency, proposed and inactive Parts relating to the keyword you entered.
What laws govern rulemaking?
The Administrative Procedures Act (APA), R.I. Gen. Laws Chapter 42-35, governs the rulemaking process. The APA dictates the steps an agency must take to publish regulations in the RICR. To learn more about the steps of the rulemaking process, click here. An agency must have statutory authority to publish and enforce a regulation. This means a State or Federal law has authorized that agency to issue regulations relating to a specific topic.
How can I find out about changes to regulations?
When an agency decides to adopt, amend, or repeal a regulation, it must publish the proposed changes for public consideration and accept comments from the public regarding those changes for at least 30 days. In the RICR, proposed rules are clearly marked. You can also search for proposed rules using a specific RICR citation, if you know it, or a word or phrase, if you don't. If you would like to be notified of any future changes to a particular Part, subscribe to notifications.
How can I get involved in the rulemaking process?
When an agency wishes to introduce a new regulation or make changes to an existing regulation, members of the public are given the opportunity to submit comments about the proposed regulation language. These comments help to shape the language published in the final rule. Each proposed rule is accompanied by a notice of proposed rulemaking which includes information about how to submit your comments.
What is a Regulation History?
For each Part in the Rhode Island Code of Regulations, the History tab shows the previous versions of that Part. The Department of State maintains all proposed and final rules and regulations filed by state agencies, boards and commissions and provides online access to all final rules and regulations filed since 2002. To obtain certified copies of a regulation filed prior to 2002, please contact the Administrative Records Office.
What is a Rulemaking Record?
According to the Administrative Procedures Act, R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-35-2.3, after January 1, 2019, each regulation published in the Rhode Island Code of Regulations must be accompanied by several documents relating to the creation of that regulation and the public's participation in the rulemaking process. The RICR provides on-demand digital access to these documents to enhance transparency and encourage civic engagement.
Are there exemptions to the rulemaking process?
Yes. Certain entities, such as the Judiciary and New England Higher Education Compact, are exempt from publishing regulations in the Rhode Island Code of Regulations. For a full list of exemptions, see R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-35-18. The Department of State is not involved in the publication of rules outside of the RICR. To access those regulations, please contact the agency directly. You may also follow the links below.
How do I sign up for email notifications?
You can sign up to receive email notifications for agency rulemaking activity through the RICR by clicking the “Subscribe for Notifications” button located below the search box on any page of the Code. Simply enter your email address and choose to receive notifications for one, multiple, or all agencies publishing rules in the Code. You can also choose how frequently you would like to receive those notifications. Once you have made your selections and clicked the button marked “subscribe,” you will receive an email with a link to confirm your subscription. Your subscription will not be active until you click that link. You can also use the “Subscribe to Notifications” button to manage your subscriptions at any time. To subscribe to notifications about a specific Part, click the button labeled “Notify Me” on the Overview tab for that Part.
How do I unsubscribe from email notifications?
You can unsubscribe from notifications by clicking the “unsubscribe” button in any email notification you receive. You can also use the “Subscribe to Notifications” button below the search box to manage your subscriptions at any time.
How do I contact the Department of State?
By mail: Administrative Records Office
Rhode Island State House
82 Smith Street
Providence, RI 02903
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org By telephone: (401)222-3983
How do I contact an agency or department directly?
To find contact information for an agency Rules Coordinator, visit that agency's Agency Info page. You can navigate to each Agency Info page from the RICR Table of Contents by clicking the Title number for the agency and then clicking the blue "View Agency Info" button.
- Administrative Procedures Act or APA
Adopt or Adoption
"Adopt" or "Adoption" means creating a new regulation.
Advance notice of proposed rulemaking or ANPRM
"Advance notice of proposed rulemaking" or "ANPRM" means an optional process in which an agency chooses to gather information and solicit comments from the public before publishing a proposed rule. The ANPRM is published in the Rhode Island Government Register and on the agency's website. If an agency chooses to hold a public hearing regarding an ANPRM, the hearing must be posted to the Public Meetings database in accordance with the Open Meetings Act (R.I. Gen. Laws Chapter 42-46).
"Agency" means a department, board, commission, division, or quasi-public corporation created by the General Assembly or the Governor and authorized by statute to make and enforce rules.
Amend or Amendment
"Amend" or "Amendment" means altering, modifying, rephrasing, or adding to or subtracting from an existing regulation.
Concise explanatory statement
"Concise explanatory statement" means a statement filed with the final rule that explains:
- The agency's reasons for creating the rule;
- Why the agency did not make changes to the rule in response to comments submitted, if applicable;
- The reasons for any change between the text of the proposed rule contained in the notice of proposed rulemaking and the text of the final rule;
- The regulatory analysis.
"Declaratory order" means a document issued by an agency that states whether a statute or regulation applies to the person or entity petitioning the agency for that decision. (R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-35-8).
Direct final rule
"Direct final rule" means a rule an agency expects to be noncontroversial. Just like in a normal rulemaking procedure, the agency must publish the proposed rule in the Rhode Island Code of Regulations and on the agency's website and open the proposed rule to public comment for at least 30 days. If the agency receives no objection to the proposed rule during the public comment period, the rule will take effect immediately. If the agency receives an objection, the proposed rule will not become final and the agency may choose to begin the rulemaking process again.
"Emergency rule" means a type of rulemaking action which does not require the normal 30-day public comment period or any other waiting period before the rule takes effect. To file an emergency rule, an agency must find that there is imminent danger to public health, safety, or welfare or the potential loss of federal funding for an agency program. The agency must publish the reasons for that finding in the Rhode Island Code of Regulations and on its website. The emergency rule takes effect once it is signed by the agency head and the Governor or the Governor's designee. The emergency rule may be effective for a maximum of 120 days, renewable once for a maximum of 60 days.
"Final rule" means a rule an agency promulgates in accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act (R.I. Gen. Laws Chapter 42-35). A final rule is currently or was at one time in effect and enforceable by the agency. Final rules may be labeled as an adoption, amendment, or repeal, and further as an emergency or direct final rule.
"Guidance document" means a document issued by an agency not subject to the publishing requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act (R.I. Gen. Laws Chapter 42-35). Unlike a regulation, a guidance document lacks the force of law. A guidance document describes the agency's approach to or interpretation of a statute and explains how and when the agency will exercise discretionary functions.
Hearing or Public Hearing
"Hearing" or "Public Hearing" means a meeting on the topic of a proposed rule which is open to the public. At a hearing, members of the public are invited to give testimony or otherwise submit comments on a proposed rule. The hearing is recorded and kept as part of the rulemaking record for that rule. For each proposed rule, a public hearing may not be scheduled earlier than 10 days after the notice of proposed rulemaking is published in the Rhode Island Code of Regulations and may not be scheduled later than 5 days prior to the end of the public comment period.
Incorporation by reference
"Incorporation by reference" means an agency is including a document as part of the rule by naming the document and stating that it is incorporated by reference. When an agency incorporates a document by reference, the entire document becomes a part of the rule. For example, if an agency incorporates a federal regulation by reference, all of the text of that regulation becomes part of the Rhode Island regulation enforceable by that agency.
Notice of proposed rulemaking
"Notice of proposed rulemaking" means a document published in the Rhode Island Code of Regulations relating to a proposed rule. The notice of proposed rulemaking must contain:
- The purpose of the proposed rule;
- A reference to the statutory authority for the rule;
- How the public can access a copy of the complete regulatory analysis;
- Details about how a person can submit a comment on the proposed rule, including the beginning and end dates of the public comment period;
- The date the notice of the proposed rulemaking is filed in the Rhode Island Code of Regulations;
- Details about any study or report that was considered in the formulation of the proposed rule, including how a person can access a copy of the study or report;
- A summary of any regulatory analysis prepared prior to publishing the proposed rule for public comment.
"Part" means a regulation in its entirety. Each regulation in the Rhode Island Code of Regulations is assigned a unique Part number.
- Proposed Rule
- Public comment period
"Regulatory analysis" means a document that includes:
- A careful consideration of the benefit and cost of the rule as proposed and of possible alternate versions of the proposed rule; and
- A determination that the rule as proposed represents the most effective and least burdensome method of fulfilling the purpose of the rule.
"Repeal" means revoking an existing rule. When a rule is repealed, it is no longer enforceable by the agency.
Rule or Regulation
"Rule"or "Regulation" means a document which has the force of law, has general applicability outside of the agency, and implements agency policy or otherwise interprets the law which gives that agency rulemaking authority. The terms "rule" and "regulation" are used interchangeably.
- Rulemaking agenda
"Rules coordinator" means the designated individual at an agency who has knowledge of the agency's proposed rules and responds to questions from the public regarding those rules. The rules coordinator is also responsible for maintaining all records relating to the agency's rulemaking actions.
"Technical Revision" means a correction to an existing rule which does not change the substantive meaning or intent of that rule. Technical revisions are processed to correct typographical, grammatical, or formatting errors in a final rule.