Minnesota Expects Surge in Administrative Rules for 2024 Amidst Legislative Activity

Minneapolis, Minnesota – The year 2023 saw the adoption of 27 administrative rules in Minnesota, with expectations for more to come in 2024. Although administrative rules may not receive the same level of celebration as legislation, they play a vital role in shaping society and ensuring the implementation of comprehensive regulatory schemes.

These rules, which are essentially laws formulated by state agencies, help solidify and complement the legislative framework. While the bureaucratic process behind rulemaking may seem dull, it is crucial for ensuring that these rules are constitutional, reasonable, and aligned with legislation.

Statistically, the 27 rules adopted in 2023 marked the highest number since 2016 when 31 rules were implemented. Interestingly, about 30% of these rules were found to have a legal defect, according to the nonpartisan Office of Administrative Hearings. This defect average is consistent with the data from the past decade, and the number of rules adopted is also in line with historical averages of approximately 25 rules per year.

With the significant growth in state government and legislative activity in 2023, it is anticipated that there will be a noticeable increase in the number of adopted rules in the coming years. As a result of this increase, there may also be a rise in legal defects, further adding to the time and expense of rulemaking.

While legislation establishes the foundation for state policy on various matters, such as cannabis regulations, educational standards, and nursing-home protocols, rulemaking fills in the details and relies on the expertise of professionals in relevant fields. Scientists, educators, and medical professionals work alongside agency professionals to transform the Legislature’s public-policy preferences into enforceable laws.

The 2023 legislative sessions authorized or directed state agencies to proceed with rulemaking on at least 52 different topics. This number does not include rules required in response to legislative changes, pre-existing agency plans, federal law requirements, or rules necessary for emergencies or other urgent needs.

Not only will the number of proposed rules increase, but the process of their adoption will also differ from the standard rulemaking procedure. Expedited rulemaking, a quicker process that bypasses certain requirements like the public hearing and a detailed statement of need and reasonableness, was authorized for about 15% of the 2023 rulemaking directives. While expedited rulemaking streamlines the process, it still incorporates a 30-day comment period and legal review from the Office of Administrative Hearings.

However, the use of expedited rulemaking for new state programs and regulatory schemes raises concerns. This process, which lacks the public hearing and extends the legal review period to just 14 days, may not be ideal for agencies establishing substantive rules. Although expedited rulemaking can be appropriate for non-controversial rules or those that require prompt compliance with changes in state or federal law, it may not provide sufficient oversight for complex regulations.

The 2023 Legislature passed laws authorizing expedited rulemaking for several important issues, including the legalization of cannabis and the establishment of the Minnesota Nursing Home Workforce Standards Board.

Looking ahead, it seems that expedited rulemaking may become a prevalent rulemaking procedure in Minnesota. The increased number of rules adopted and the potential challenges associated with their implementation highlight the importance of carefully navigating the rulemaking process to ensure accountability and transparency.

In summary, administrative rules, though often overshadowed by legislation, play a crucial role in shaping society. The adoption of 27 rules in 2023, along with expectations of further expansion in the coming years, underscores the significance of rulemaking in Minnesota. Efforts must be made to strike a balance between the expedited process and ensuring agency accountability and transparency.