DSHS Rule-Making Process

To adopt rules - also known as Washington Administrative Code, regulations, or "WAC" - all Washington State agencies must follow steps that are described in the Administrative Procedure Act, or "APA." All DSHS rules may be found in Title 388 WAC. The regular rule-making steps in the APA include:

  • A CR-101 Preproposal Statement of Inquiry is the first official notice needed to start most rule-making actions. The CR-101 announces that DSHS is planning to write rules on a particular subject and invites the public to take part in the rule-making process.
  • Publishing and mailing notices. The CR-101 and all "CR" notices below are published in the Washington State Register. DSHS mails or e-mails these notices to anyone who has asked to receive DSHS rule-making information, and to those interested in the subject matter of the particular rule-making action.
  • Drafting the rules. DSHS involves the public to help write its rules in several ways, such as forming drafting committees, sending surveys, or circulating working drafts to interested people and groups. This drafting process can take a few months to several years to complete. Some rules require DSHS to prepare financial analyses that are available to the public.

A small business economic impact statement may be prepared if the rules add new costs for small businesses. A Small Business Economic Impact Statement (SBEIS) is an analysis of the impact of a proposed rule impact on small businesses (Chapter 19.85 RCW). 

A cost-benefit analysis may be prepared if DSHS is adopting or changing rules considered "significant" under the APA. A Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) looks at both the costs and benefits of the rule. When a rule is defined as a significant legislative rule and the agency is not exempt under RCW 34.05.328, the agency is required to complete a cost-benefit analysis for the rule file. 

  • Filing a CR-102 Proposed Rule-Making Notice. This notice gives details about the rules DSHS plans to adopt, who may be affected by the rules, and includes full text of the proposed rules. The CR-102 gives the date and place of a public hearing and instructions for sending written comments about the proposed rules.
  • Accepting public comments. Anyone may go to the public hearing to testify about proposed DSHS rules, offer written comments, or just listen. Most hearings are held in Olympia, Washington and at this time, held virtually. For those who can't attend a hearing, sending written comments is just as effective.
  • Filing a CR-103 Rule-Making Order to adopt the permanent rule. This is the last step in the rule-making process. The CR-103 notice includes the full text of the rule being adopted, and lets the public know when the rules will become effective.

Other possible rule-making actions in the Administrative Procedure Act are:

  • Emergency rules: DSHS may adopt temporary emergency rules if the rules are needed to prevent a threat to public health, safety, or welfare, or if DSHS must meet an immediate deadline imposed by a state or federal law, a federal rule, or a court decision. Emergency rules are generally effective for 120 days and may be extended in certain circumstances, but they can't become permanent unless the regular rule-making steps above are followed.
  • Expedited rule-making. This shortened process allows DSHS to adopt or repeal a rule without a public hearing or comment process in very limited circumstances. A CR-105 Expedited Rule-Making notice and the full text of the proposed rule are published in the State Register. In the next 45 days, if anyone objects to the expedited process, DSHS must use the regular rule-making process to adopt the rule including holding a public hearing. But if no one objects during this period, DSHS may adopt the rule by issuing a CR-103 rule-making order.
  • Rule-Making Petition. Anyone may petition DSHS to adopt, amend, or repeal a rule, by sending a letter or using an available form. Petitions should be sent to the DSHS Rules Coordinator. DSHS has 60 days to either reject the petition, or accept it. If the request is accepted, a regular rule-making process is started. When submitting a rule-making petition, please include the rule or rules you want changed, why the change is needed, and suggested new language. Petitions may be submitted using a petition form found here.