How we make rules

Learn what a rule is, how we create or change rules, and our goals for the rulemaking process.

What is a rule?

A rule, or Washington Administrative Code (WAC), is an agency regulation that:

  • Requires penalties for people who violate the rule.
  • Creates, changes, or removes any privilege.
  • Sets procedures or requirements for agency hearings.
  • Sets requirements for benefits that the law gives.
  • Sets standards for issuing, suspending, or revoking business and professional licenses.
  • Sets requirements for products and materials that will be sold or given.

What are the types of rules?

There are 3 types of rules: interpretive rules, procedural rules, and significant legislative rules. See explanations for each rule type below.

Interpretive rules

Interpretive rules say how we interpret the laws we're responsible for. These rules don't require penalties for people who violate them.

Procedural rules

Procedural rules adopt, amend, or repeal any:

  • Procedures or requirements for agency hearings.
  • Requirements about ways to apply for a license or permit.
  • Policies about our internal operations.

Significant legislative rules

Significant legislative rules:

  • Adopt major parts of a law within our authority, and require penalties for people who violate the rule.
  • Create, change, or remove requirements for issuing, suspending, or revoking a license or permit.
  • Adopt new policies or regulations.
  • Make major changes to policies or regulations.

What is rulemaking?

Rulemaking is how we create and adopt rules. There are 3 steps in the rulemaking process. See explanations for each step below.

1. Preproposal statement of inquiry (CR-101)

Before we propose a rule, we invite the public to discuss the possible rulemaking with us.

2. Proposed rulemaking (CR-102)

When we propose a rule, we notify the public that:

  • We're considering a new rule,
  • We made significant changes to a rule that we already filed, or
  • We need to delay a rule proceeding that already started

We also tell the public:

  • The date of the public hearing about the proposed rule.
  • How to comment on the proposed rule.

3. Adopted rulemaking order (CR-103)

After approving the rule, we file it with the Office of the Code Reviser (OCR) to put it into effect.

Normally, a rule goes into effect 31 days after we file it. Sometimes, we'll choose a later date to put it into effect.

Other rulemaking steps

In some cases, we may use different steps for adopting or changing a rule. These include:

  • Emergency rules
  • Expedited rulemaking (CR-105)

We can only use these for specific reasons. See our definitions for rules to learn more about these steps.

What are the goals of rulemaking?

The rulemaking process allows us to:

  • Say how we interpret the law.
  • Write understandable rules.
  • Notify the public when we plan to propose rules.
  • Encourage the public to participate in rulemaking.
  • Adopt rules that are technically accurate.
  • Adopt rules that aren't excessive, unreasonable, or unnecessary.

Related laws

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