I, Tony Knowles, Governor of the State of Alaska, under the authority vested in me by art. III, secs. 1 and 24, of the Alaska Constitution, order all executive branch agencies to comply with the directives set out in this Order regarding administrative regulations, in order to accomplish the following objectives:
- achieve clear and concise language, and “plain English,” in administrative regulations so that customers of state services are better able to understand and comply with the regulations;
- promote a better relationship between the Legislature, executive branch agencies, and the public that they serve;
- make the regulation-adoption process more accessible and understandable to the general public;
- minimize the cost to the public of complying with state regulations; and encourage state agencies to work with the regulated public to meet the objectives of agency regulations.
1. Public notices regarding regulation changes, including repeals of existing regulations, should include statements that describe:
- what is being changed;
- how it is being changed; and
- why it is being changed.
2. In public notices regarding regulation changes:
- minimize the use of technical terms not generally understood by the public;
- use “plain English” in describing the regulatory action;
- strive for clarity and clean, concise language;
- name a specific agency contact person for requesting information about the regulation project, including information regarding special accommodations for persons with a disability; and
- actively solicit comments from the affected public on the cost of compliance with the proposed regulation.
3. When drafting regulations, each agency shall consider known and potential costs to the public of complying with the regulations and, to the extent possible, shall draft the regulations so as to minimize those costs.
4. When preparing the public notice for regulation changes, the adopting agency shall consider whether, because of the nature and effect of the regulation changes, the agency should hold one or more oral public hearings on the changes, in addition to providing for written comments on the changes. In deciding whether to hold oral hearings, the agency shall consider both its budget and the possibility of using teleconferencing.
5. In determining an appropriate length of time for the public comment period for a set of regulations, the adopting agency shall consider:
- the special needs or concerns of those likely to be affected by the regulations;
- whether the anticipated comment period is sufficient for the public to obtain a copy of, review, and comment on the regulations;
- the urgency of the regulations project: and
- the overall time frame for the regulations project.
6. At the time of publishing a public notice regarding regulation changes, each adopting agency shall provide for additional newspaper or broadcast media press releases, or mailings to affected persons, to the extent that action is economically feasible, in order to ensure maximum public awareness of the agency action.
7. In maintaining mailing lists of persons interested in agency regulations, each agency shall periodically review the lists to ensure that, to the extent possible, the lists represent the broadest spectrum of interested persons as well as persons likely to be affected by the agency’s regulations,
8. After a regulation change has been filed by the Lieutenant Governor’s Office, the adopting agency, to the extent economically feasible, shall use newspaper or broadcast media press releases, or mailings, to inform the public of the filing and impending effective date of the regulation change.
9. To better respond to inquiries from the public regarding regulations projects, each commissioner shall institute an internal agency system for maintaining, in a centralized manner, current information regarding pending agency regulations projects. As part of such a system:
each commissioner shall designate a staff person within the agency to serve as the general regulation information contact person for that agency;
each commissioner shall direct agency staff to provide to the contact person information necessary to develop and maintain a current list of that agency’s pending regulations projects;
at the time it opens a regulation file, the Department of Law shall provide to the appropriate agency regulation conduct person a copy of the fileopening information; and
each commissioner shall ensure that that agency’s pending regulation project list contains adequate and accurate information, including a sufficient description of each project and the name and phone number of the agency staff person who can provide more specific information about the project.
10. Each adopting agency immediately shall submit a plan to the Governor for a process of reviewing, in consultation with the Department of Law, its existing regulations for the purpose of identifying, within budget constraints, provisions to be amended or repealed because:
- the provision contains confusing or unnecessarily technical language; the use of “plain English” is the standard that should be achieved whenever possible;
- the cost to the regulated public is excessive when compared to the state’s interest in or benefit from the particular requirement; and
- the requirements of the provision are burdensome to the regulated public and less burdensome requirements still would allow the agency to carry out its statutory responsibilities.
11. The Department of Law shall, to the extent economically feasible, provide, through its own staff or through others, training to appropriate staff of executive branch agencies regarding:
- handling of public information requests regarding regulation projects, including the requirements of the public records law;
- ways to improve the language of public notices regarding regulation changes, so that the notices are more understandable and meaningful to the public while still meeting legal requirements;
- ways to improve regulation writing, so that draft regulations that are distributed to the public for comment are clearer, in “plain English,” and adequately and accurately describe the agency’s intent;
- the requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act regarding accommodations that might be required in order for persons with a disability to be able to participate in the regulatory process; and
- the requirements for collecting and seriously considering all public comments received during the public comment period for a regulation project.
12. Each commissioner shall take appropriate steps to ensure that the agency focuses its efforts on educating and otherwise working with the public so that the public is better able to comply with regulatory requirements in a cost-effective manner and avoid inadvertent noncompliance.
13. Each commissioner shall take appropriate steps to inform federal agencies of state concerns in proposed federal regulations and to suggest changes so that federal regulations are not overly burdensome for Alaskans.
14. If state agencies have overlapping regulatory responsibilities regarding business activities, the commissioners of those agencies shall ensure that the agencies work together to achieve, to the extent possible, regulatory requirements that avoid duplication while facilitating compliance with statutory requirements.
This Order takes effect immediately.
DATED at Juneau, Alaska, this 5 day of June, 1995.
By: S/S Tony Knowles