Rulemaking primer

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Rulemaking—the formal process of passing, or promulgating regulations—is one of the most important and least understood functions of government.  Lawmaking begins with the legislature passing broad policies in the form of statutes.  The rulemaking process then allows executive agencies to clarify, refine and operationalize statutes passed by the legislature in greater detail. 

Every year, state executive agencies promulgate hundreds of regulations that govern everything from the delivery of health care benefits to consumer protections and public health and safety requirements.  Colorado’s rulemaking processes and procedures, which provide significant opportunities for public participation, are critical for ensuring rules are developed and adopted in a fair manner that achieves the best outcomes for Coloradans.  It is critical that advocates and concerned citizens clearly understand the rulemaking process so they may effectively engage with the development and adoption of rules.

This issue brief serves as a guide to Colorado’s rulemaking process, with a particular focus on the procedures of state agencies responsible for health care and human services.  What follows is a step-by-step overview of the process, from an agency’s initial determination that rulemaking is necessary to the rule’s final, permanent adoption.  The particular focus throughout is on opportunities for the public to participate in and influence the rulemaking process.