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What is a rule?

What is a rule?

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

  • Subjects a person to a penalty or administrative sanction when a requirement is violated.
  • Establishes, alters, or revokes any privilege.
  • Sets procedures, practice, or requirements related to agency hearings.
  • Sets qualifications or requirements relating to the benefits conferred by law.
  • Sets qualifications or standards for issuing, suspending, or revoking business and professional licenses.
  • Sets mandatory standards that must be met for any product or material before distribution or sale.

What are the types of rules?

There are 3 basic types of rules:

  1. Interpretive rules, which state the agency's interpretation of laws it administers and does not result in a penalty or sanction if the rule is violated.
  2. Procedural rules, which adopt, amend, or repeal any:
    • Procedure, practice, or requirement related to agency hearings.
    • Filing or process requirement for applying for a license or permit.
    • Policy statement related to the consistent internal operations of an agency.
  3. Significant legislative rules, which are rules that:
    • Adopt significant provisions of law under delegated legislative authority, and impose a penalty or sanction on violators of the rule.
    • Establish, alter, or revoke any qualification or standard for issuing, suspending, or revoking a license or permit.
    • Adopt a new policy or regulatory reform.
    • Make significant changes to a policy or regulatory reform.

What is rule making?

The process used by the legislature to create and adopt a rule. The rule making process involves 3 phases:

1. Preproposal Statement of Inquiry (CR-101)
The public is invited to participate with the agency to discuss a subject of possible rule making before any formal notice or action is taken.

2. Proposed Rule Making (CR-102)
When the rule is proposed, the agency notifies the public that a new rule is being considered, that significant changes were made to a rule that has already been filed, or that the agency must delay a rule proceeding that has already started.

3. Rule-Making Order (Adoption) (CR 103)
After the rule is approved, the rule is filed with the Office of the Code Reviser to be put into effect.

What are the goals of rule making?

The rule making process is designed to:

  • State our interpretation of the law.
  • Write understandable rules.
  • Ensure that the public is notified of our intent to propose rules on a subject.
  • Encourage public participation in the rule-making process.
  • Adopt rules that are technically accurate.
  • Adopt rules that are not excessive, unreasonable, or unnecessary.

Questions? Need help?

If you would like to sign up to receive information about rules, please email our rules coordinator.

Related laws

Subscribe to our email lists about rulemaking activity:

By joining, you'll get updates on:

  • New rulemaking proposals.
  • Public hearings.
  • Online comment periods.
  • Any changes made throughout the process.

Email RulesCoordinator@dol.wa.gov with any questions.

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