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Steps in Developing Regulations

The adoption, change or repeal of any regulation by a Virginia agency must be conducted in accordance with the Virginia Administrative Process Act (unless the agency specifically is exempted by the act) and with the agency's own public participation guidelines. In addition, the Governor is required by statute to establish procedures for executive branch review of agency regulations. Generally, the adoption process, which can take more than a year to complete, includes several steps as illustrated below (please note, in those limited cases where the regulation is under DEQ authority, the first review and adoption steps are performed by the DEQ Director).

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Interested in DEQ's regulation development activities? Go to Virginia Town Hall to find and view regulatory activities and become a registered public user on Virginia Town Hall to receive email notifications of regulatory actions and meetings.

Notice of Intended Regulatory Action

The Administrative Process Act requires an agency to signal publicly its intent to adopt, change or repeal any regulation by publishing a Notice of Intended Regulatory Action in The Virginia Register of Regulations. The published notice must state the topic and purpose of the planned regulation and seek written public comment for a period of not less than 30 days from the date of publication in The Virginia Register.

Public meeting

After publication of the Notice of Intended Regulatory Action, the agency may choose to hold one or more public meetings to answer questions about the proposed regulation and receive public comment. These optional public meetings, which are held no earlier than 30 days after the Notice of Intended Regulatory Action is published, are informal. Pre-registration for speaking is not required, and testimony is not recorded. Times and locations of the meetings are announced on the Virginia Town Hall and Commonwealth Calendar.

First review by board

After a proposed regulation has been drafted by the agency (frequently with the assistance of an advisory panel composed of interested citizens and other parties), the proposed regulation is reviewed by the appropriate citizen regulatory board (State Air Pollution Control Board, Waste Management Board, State Water Control Board) and voted upon during an open and publicly called meeting of the board.

If approved, the proposed regulation is published in The Virginia Register and may be advertised for public comment in newspapers of general circulation. Copies of the proposed regulation are made available for public review. The proposed regulation also is sent to the Governor's Office and the Department of Planning and Budget.

Public comment period

The public comment period lasts a minimum of 60 days after publication of the proposed regulation in The Virginia Register and will include at least one public hearing if a public hearing is required to be held.

Public hearing

If required, one or more public hearings will be held at least 15 days before the close of the public comment period. During the hearing, the agency accepts comment on the proposed regulation. Public hearings are informal proceedings, and pre-registration to speak is not required. Times and places of hearings are published in the Virginia Register and announced on the Virginia Town Hall and Commonwealth Calendar.

Adoption by board

After the close of the public comment period, the appropriate citizen board reviews the proposed regulation and, based on public comment and agency recommendations, takes final action on the regulation at an open, publicly called meeting. If adopted, the final regulation is published in The Virginia Register. The adopted regulation also is sent to the Governor's Office and the Department of Planning and Budget.

Effective date

The adopted regulation becomes effective no earlier than 30 days after it is published in The Virginia Register. The effective date may be delayed by the Governor, an appropriate legislative committee or a petition of 25 or more people requesting additional public comment on substantial changes made to the proposed regulation.

Virginia Register of Regulations

The Virginia Register of Regulations is published every other Monday as overseen by the Virginia Code Commission in the Division of Legislative Services. It contains all proposed and recently adopted state regulations, gubernatorial executive orders, Virginia tax bulletins, and notices of public hearings on proposed regulations.

Regulations are published three times in The Virginia Register: first, as a Notice of Intended Regulatory Action; second, as an advertisement for public comment after preliminary approval by a citizen board; and third, after final adoption.

The Virginia Register is available at most public libraries across the state. For more information, contact The Virginia Register of Regulations, General Assembly Building, 910 Capitol Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219, (804) 786-3591.

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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000

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