Mary-Rose W. Pellegrino, Esq., Rhode Island Department of Administration.
Until recently, Rhode Island was part of a minority of states that had yet to adopt a uniform code of administrative rules. Without uniformity, agencies throughout the State used different methods for drafting, styling and citing rules.1 This inconsistency resulted in a statewide regulatory scheme that was difficult to navigate from a legal standpoint and from a business perspective. The lack of uniformity made legal research inefficient and challenging.
In 2016, the sections of the Rhode Island Administrative Procedures Act (APA) that control the administrative rulemaking process were amended.2 The amendments required the implementation of a new uniform code structure for all administrative rules and modernized the rule promulgation process. The amendments were based on the Revised Model State Administrative Procedures Act (Model Act). The Model Act was published by the Uniform Law Commission, a non-partisan organization founded in 1892 that drafts model codes "to promote uniformity in law among the states."3 In developing the Model Act, the Uniform Law Commission researched "best practices in states" with the goal of developing a body of law that promoted "fairness, efficiency, and ensur[ed] public access to agency information."4
A New Uniform Code
The 2016 amendments to the APA required that agencies review, reformat, and publish all State regulations in a comprehensive and uniform administrative code by December 31, 2018.5 The Rhode Island Department of State was tasked with organizing the code structure. This new administrative code is called the Rhode Island Code of Regulations (RICR). The structure of the RICR is similar to the Code of Federal Regulations. Each Title is followed by a Chapter, Subchapter and Part. Each "Part" is the rule in its entirety.
The amendments to the APA also required the Department of State to assign an official administrative code number to each rule.7 Previously, each time a rule was amended, the Department of State issued a new identifier called an Electronic Rule Location Identifier (ERLID). Since the ERLID number changed with every new promulgation, it further complicated tracking a rule's history. In the new RICR, each rule has a unique identifier that stays with the rule throughout its existence. The identifying code number indicates the agency Title, Chapter, Subchapter and Part number.
Since February 2015, the Office of Regulatory Reform (ORR) within the Rhode Island Department of Administration (DOA) has been responsible for the centralized review of most executive branch rules.8 ORR reviews regulations both before and after the public-comment period to ensure that rules are "clearly written, relevant, and up-to-date."9Building upon ORR's ongoing task of reviewing rules, the APA amendments required ORR "to coordinate and direct agencies in the effort to develop [the RICR]."10
ORR developed a phased approach to the work, requiring each agency to review and reformat each agency rule. Agencies then submitted each rule for ORR review. ORR worked closely with the executive branch agencies over the course of two years, ultimately reviewing more than twenty-five thousand pages of regulation. "In July 2016, we were staring down tens of thousands of pages of regulatory material and it felt like an impossible task. Our success is due to the hard work and support of staff at every regulatory agency and a dedicated team of analysts in ORR who never wavered from this ambitious goal," said DOA Chief of Staff Amanda Clarke. Approximately eight thousand pages of antiquated, redundant or non-regulatory provisions were repealed. Rules that remain on the books have been updated to increase clarity and efficacy, while also reducing
Letters to the Editor
In response to Fifty Years: My Life as a Lawyer and Beyond, by Philip M. Weinstein
I enjoyed reading the article by Philip Weinstein, Esq., on the anniversary of his fifty years. I was especially pleased that he only remembered one of the many cases we tried. I often wondered what had happened to Phil. I heard the rumors that he had joined the peace corps, one that he had become a Buddhist monk in Myanmar and even one that he was in the jungles of Panama trying to retrieve Imelda Marcos' lost shoes.
It was good to hear that none of the rumors were true and that he finally became president of the homeowners association in Guanacaste.