Frequently Asked Questions

General

  • What is the function of the Independent Regulatory Review Commission?
    • The Commission reviews proposed and final regulations from Pennsylvania state agencies for consistency with the criteria contained in the Regulatory Review Act. The criteria include the statutory authority for the agency to promulgate the regulation, consistency with the statute which the regulation implements, the economic and fiscal impact of the regulation and the reasonableness of the regulation.

  • What happens to my comment after IRRC receives it?
    • The Regulatory Review Act requires the Commission to maintain in our regulation files every comment received during the public comment period. Anyone may review our regulation files by accessing our website, coming to our office during normal business hours, or requesting a hard copy of a particular document or file via e-mail, fax or first class mail. Our regulation files are publicly accessible for at least four years from the date the regulation is promulgated.
  • What regulations does the Commission review?
    • The Commission reviews regulations from all Pennsylvania state agencies, except regulations from the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, the Pennsylvania Game Commission, or any court, political subdivision, municipal or local authority.
  • How are Commissioners chosen for service?
    • There are five members of the Commission, each of whom is appointed by a different appointing authority. The appointing authorities are the Governor, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, the Minority Leader of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives. A commissioner may not be a Commonwealth employee or hold an elected or appointed position in state government.To see a current list of Commissioners, visit our commissioners page

  • What is the difference between the proposed rulemaking stage and the final-form rulemaking stage?
    • During the proposed rulemaking stage, the proposed regulation is published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin with a public comment period that lasts for a minimum of 30 days.  Any interested party, including individuals, associations, businesses, legislators, standing committees and the Commission, may comment on the regulation during this stage.  The Commission's comments are due to the promulgating agency 30 days after the close of the public comment period.  During the final-form stage, the standing committees may vote to approve or disapprove the regulation or request further review after the Commission votes on the regulation.  The Commission will schedule the regulation for consideration at a public meeting and will vote to approve or disapprove the regulation in its entirety. 

      Although the regulation is not published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin for another formal public comment period during the final rulemaking stage, interested parties may comment in writing to the promulgating agency or the Commission.   

      Members of the public are also provided the opportunity to comment on the final regulation at the Commission's public meeting.
  • How does the Commission determine whether a regulation is in the public interest?
    • The criteria specified in the Regulatory Review Act (71 P.S. § 745.5b) are the foundation of the Commission's review of regulations. These criteria form the basis for the Commission's comments on a proposed regulation and must be considered by our Commissioners in determining whether a final regulation is in the public interest. The criteria include:
      • Whether the agency has statutory authority to implement the regulation
      • Whether the regulation is consistent with the legislative intent
      • Economic and fiscal impact on the public and private sector
      • Protection of the public health, safety and welfare
      • Clarity, feasibility and reasonableness of the regulation
      • Whether acceptable data is the basis of the regulation
      • Whether a less costly or less intrusive method of achieving the goals has been  considered for a regulation impacting small business
      • Whether the regulation represents a policy decision requiring legislative review
      • Comments, objections or recommendations of a Committee
      • Compliance with the Regulatory Review Act and the Commission's regulations

Proposed Regulations

  • Where can I find proposed regulations?
    • Proposed regulations are available on this website. Proposed regulations are also available from the agency proposing the regulation, or by visiting the PA Bulletin website. The Legislative Reference Bureau publishes all proposed regulations in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. The publication of the proposed regulation contains a preamble which explains the proposal, as well as the address where public comments may be sent. Generally, the public comment period lasts for 30 days.
  • How do I submit comments on a proposed regulation?
    • You should comment to the agency during the public comment period specified in the proposed regulation's Preamble. This accomplishes several things. First, your comment will be part of the public record and must be forwarded by the agency to the Standing Committees and the Commission. Second, the agency must provide a written response to your comment in its submittal of the final regulation. Third, the agency will ask you if you want notice of the final regulation submittal. Finally, it gives the Commission the opportunity to review your comment in relation to our statutory criteria.
  • How can I provide written comments to the Commission?
    • The Commission accepts written comments on regulations by first class mail, fax or email. Emailed comments should be addressed to irrc@irrc.state.pa.us

      The Commission's mailing address is:
      333 Market Street,
      14th Floor,
      Harrisburg, PA 17101;

      Fax number: (717) 783-2664.

      Comments on final regulations should be received at least 48 hours prior to the Commission's public meeting.

      All comments are considered public documents and will be posted to our website.
  • What is a Regulatory Analysis Form and where can I find it?
    • The Regulatory Analysis Form, or RAF, is an informational form that accompanies all regulations submitted to the Commission and committees. The RAF identifies the pertinent background information the agency is required to provide under Section 5(a) of the Regulatory Review Act, including statutory authority, estimates of costs or savings, recordkeeping requirements and affected parties. The agency must also address whether the requirements imposed by the regulation are more stringent than those established under federal standards. Although the RAF is not published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin with the proposed or final regulation, the document is available from the agency and the Commission. An example of the RAF can be found on the following page and a template can be found by clicking here.

  • Is the Commission required to include all public comments in its comment on a regulation?
    • No. The Commission comments when it finds a proposed regulation is inconsistent with the criteria in the Regulatory Review Act based on legislative comment, public comment or its own review and research of the regulation. The agency must respond to all comments in the final-form submittal as required by the Regulatory Review Act.

Final Regulations

  • How will I know if an agency submitted a final-form regulation to the Commission and the committees?
    • All parties who submit comments on a proposed regulation will receive notice from the agency on how they can obtain information on the final version. When the agency submits the final-form regulation to the Commission and the committees, it must also send a copy of the final-form regulation or a summary of changes to the regulation to those who requested information.  You may also follow the progress of a regulation by subscribing to that regulation on our website www.irrc.state.pa.us.
  • Can the Commission amend a final regulation?
    • No. The Commission may only vote to either approve or disapprove a final regulation in its entirety as submitted by the agency.
  • Is it possible to provide comments on a final regulation?
    • Yes. The Commission will review comments on a final regulation up to 48 hours prior to the beginning of the Commission's public meeting. Comments received after this time will be embargoed until the public meeting, unless those comments were submitted at the request of the Commission. If you wish to provide comments on a final regulation at the public meeting, you should contact the Commission office or visit our meeting page to learn the date of the public meeting when the regulation will be considered.

  • What is the 48-hour blackout period?
    • The Regulatory Review Act establishes a blackout period before the Commission's public meeting. Unsolicited comments relating to the substance of a regulation on the Commission's current public meeting agenda will be embargoed during the 48 hours before the start of the meeting. The blackout does not apply to communication between the Commission and agency staff or Members of the General Assembly and legislative staff. The Commission may also request information from outside sources.

Public Meetings

  • Do I need to register to speak at a Commission public meeting?
    • It is not required that members of the public register to speak at a Commission public meeting. However, it is recommended that you contact our office to indicate your intent to speak.
  • What happens after the Commission approves a final-form regulation?
    • The Commission will issue an order notifying the promulgating agency, the standing committees and the Legislative Reference Bureau of its approval. In most circumstances, the promulgating agency will then submit the approved regulation to the Office of the Attorney General for legal review. After the Attorney General approves the regulation, the agency will submit it to the Legislative Reference Bureau for publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.  The regulation becomes effective on the date it is published or on another date specified by the promulgating agency in the regulation or the rulemaking order.

Process

  • What are the standing committees of the General Assembly?
    • Both the House of Representatives and the Senate form committees of their members to oversee specific subjects, policy matters and agencies. One of the functions of a standing committee includes the review of regulations. (For example, the House and Senate Transportation committees review Penn DOT regulations.) The committee assignments and schedules can be found on the General Assembly's website.

  • Is there a time period for an agency to return a proposed regulation as a final-form regulation?
    • Yes.The agency has two years from the close of the public comment period to submit a final-form regulation. If the agency fails to meet this deadline, the regulation is considered withdrawn and the review process is concluded.
  • What happens when the Commission disapproves a final regulation?
    • The Commission will issue a disapproval order indicating the reasons for disapproval. The agency has three options after an initial disapproval. The agency may:
      1.  withdraw the regulation;
      2.  resubmit the regulation with revisions within 40 days of receipt of the Commission disapproval order; or,
      3. submit the regulation without revisions to the General Assembly.
  • What is tolling?
    • Tolling allows an agency to request a 30-day "hold" in the process to make changes to a final regulation after it has been submitted to the Commission and committees. The agency may make only those changes recommended by the Commission and/or committees. Tolling may only occur prior to a formal action taken by a committee on the regulation or prior to the expiration of the standing committees' review period. Review of the regulation will resume when the agency delivers to the Commission and the committees, within the 30-day tolling period, either the revised regulation or written notification that the regulation will not be revised. If the agency does not meet this 30-day deadline, the regulation is deemed withdrawn.

Sine die

  • What is sine die?
    • “Sine die” is a Latin phrase meaning “without day”. In Pennsylvania, it signifies final adjournment of a two-year legislative session.
  • How does sine die affect proposed regulations?
    • Sine die has no effect on the viability of proposed regulations. They expire only if the promulgating agency does not submit the final-form regulation within two years of the close of the public comment period.

      Sine die does affect delivery rules for proposed regulations. Agencies may deliver proposed regulations to the Commission and the Legislative Reference Bureau in the period between sine die and the opening of the next legislative session; however, the Regulatory Review Act requires them to wait until a specified time period in the new legislative session to deliver proposed regulations to the standing committees.
  • How does sine die affect final-form regulations?
    • Sine die has no effect on the viability of pending final-form regulations. However, it does affect delivery rules for final-form regulations. Agencies may not deliver final regulations to the Commission and the standing committees in the period between sine die and the opening of the next legislative session. Instead, the Regulatory Review Act requires them to wait until a specified time period in the new legislative session to deliver final regulations to the reviewing entities.
  • What happens if sine die interrupts the standing committees' review of a final-form or final-omitted regulation?
    • The Regulatory Review Act provides that the standing committees shall have at least 20 days to consider final-form and final-omitted regulations. If sine die occurs before the 20 day period has lapsed, the promulgating agency must redeliver the regulation to the standing committees at a specified time in the new legislative session. The standing committees will then have no fewer than ten days to complete their review of the final-form or final-omitted regulation.