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The Indiana rulemaking process is designed to allow for maximum public input, which also means that creating or adopting a rule can often take anywhere from a year and a half to several years from start to finish. Following is a brief overview of that process.
The formal part of the environmental rulemaking process starts when IDEM publishes something called a "first notice" in the Indiana Register. The Indiana Register is published on the first day of every month and acts like a supplement to the Indiana Administrative Code, the set of regulations that govern the state. The first notice discusses the general ideas to be covered by the rulemaking. It also discusses who might be affected by the rulemaking. The first notice does not actually say what the actual changes to the rule will be; it includes no "language." The published notice will also include an address, so that anyone can write in to comment on the proposed changes. The time limit for writing in, called the public comment period, is usually 30 days, although it may be longer. The agency must summarize all of these written comments and respond formally in writing to each comment that was submitted in writing during the formal comment period.
All of the comments and responses are then published in the Indiana Register.
The second notice is also published in the Indiana Register and contains another written comment period. This time, the draft language of the new rule is included. To be more specific, the old rule is printed with new suggested language in bold and things that will be removed are crossed out. Like the first notice, the second notice also has a public comment period, but this time it lasts a minimum of 30 days. Also like the first notice, IDEM must summarize the comments and respond to them and publish them in the Indiana Register.
Not all of the rulemaking process takes place in the Indiana Register. The first and second notice may also include information about workgroups. Workgroups are meetings open to anyone who is interested in the new rule. Discussions may include the concept behind the new rule or the actual draft language. These meetings are informal, but can have a significant impact on the language of the rule. Workgroups are held with the goals of educating interested people about the issues and reaching consensus about the revisions, a process that may include new amendments.
The next formal step after the second public notice is a "public hearing for preliminary adoption." This hearing takes place in front of the board that will actually vote on whether to adopt the rule. It is also one of 2 required public meetings (not the same thing as a workgroup, because meetings are held before the board). The agency presents its suggestions for rule changes to the board. The changes that the agency proposes do not have to have the exact same text as that published in the second notice; it will usually reflect changes suggested by workgroups and public comments.
If the board preliminarily adopts the rule, it will get published in the Indiana Register again. If changes have been made between what was in the second notice and what the board preliminarily adopted, then a third formal, written comment period of at least 21 days is required. More workgroup meetings might also be held and a notice of the final adoption hearing will be also be published.
The final adoption hearing is where the board votes on whether to final adopt the proposed rule as is or to make some additional changes to it. The board can also vote to include its own amendments or amendments suggested by members of the audience. The board can also direct the agency to hold more meetings, if it feels that more time is needed to reach the best possible rule, before it will final adopt the rule.
When the board final adopts a rule, the agency sends a copy to the Indiana Attorney General's office, along with information about the process the rule went through before adoption. It is the attorney general's job to make sure that the proper procedure was followed in the rulemaking process. The attorney general will also review the new rule. It is then signed by the governor and filed with the secretary of state's office. The rule becomes effective 30 days after filing with the secretary of state, unless a different, later date is specified in the rule. The final adopted rule is also published in the Indiana Register.
Like all citizens, you have a right to know what's going on. And if you know what, where, and how to ask for the information you need, you will be more successful in getting it. You also may be more successful at changing a proposed rule that you feel may have an impact on you, your family and neighbors. It all starts with understanding the process; knowing how our government is organized, and how our environmental rules are made and enforced.
State law requires that the Air Pollution Control Board, Water Pollution Control Board, and Solid Waste Management Boards meet a minimum of 6 times each year. On average, they each meet about 9 or 10 times per year. The Underground Storage Tank Financial Assurance Board usually meets quarterly (about every 3 months). Generally, the Air Pollution Control Board meets on the first Wednesday of each month, the Water Pollution Control Board meets on the second Wednesday of each month, and the Solid Waste Management Board meets on the third Tuesday of each month. Generally, each of the boards meets at the Indiana Government Center South (just west of the statehouse), at 402 W. Washington St., in Indianapolis. The meetings usually begin at 1:00 or 1:30 in the afternoon. Meeting dates can vary, so if you are interested in attending a board meeting, check IDEM's Calendar or the Board Packets pages.
The latest rulemaking information going before boards can be found on the Board Packets page. Packets are organized according according to the following boards:
You can keep track of which rules are open for comment by reading notices published monthly in the Indiana Register, which is published on the first day of every month, by checking IDEM's Rules in Progress Web page, or, if you are interested in a specific rule, you can ask to be notified by IDEM staff. Written comments during the formal comment periods are generally due 30 days after publication in the Indiana Register, unless the notice provides for a different deadline. You may submit comments in writing to the address listed in the notice about your thoughts and ideas about the rule. Comments can be mailed, faxed, or hand delivered.
Every notice will list an IDEM staff person to contact for more information, as well as who to send comments to.
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Each number represents a consecutive step in the rulemaking process.