Proposed Administrative Rules and Public Input Opportunities
The Wisconsin DNR creates and revises administrative rules to implement statutes enacted by the Wisconsin State Legislature [exit DNR]. Administrative rules have the full force and effect of law.
Opportunities For Participation
Public participation is a critical component of agency rulemaking. We value your involvement in the Wisconsin DNR's rulemaking activities. There are numerous opportunities for you to participate in the DNR rulemaking process. You can:
- attend public meetings;
- attend DNR or legislative public hearings;
- attend Natural Resources Board meetings;
- provide information on the potential economic impact of proposed rules, when you are affected by a proposed rule;
- comment on proposed rules and economic impact analyses through the Wisconsin Legislature administrative rules website [exit DNR], verbally at hearings, via email or via hard copy/paper; and
- contact DNR staff assigned to proposed rules to find out other ways to participate in the rulemaking process.
Process for public comments through Wisconsin Legislature website
Comments on proposed administrative rules are accepted through the Wisconsin Legislature's administrative rules website [exit DNR].
To locate rules on the Legislature's website relating to DNR that are open for comment, navigate to either the "Clearinghouse Rules Open for Public Comment" page or the "Emergency Rules Open for Public Comment" page.
- The "Clearinghouse Rules" are permanent administrative rules. You can sort this page by the "Executive Agency" column and look for "Department of Natural Resources." Note: Clearinghouse numbers are different than DNR-assigned Natural Resources Board (NRB) order numbers.
- On the Emergency Rules page, look for "Department of Natural Resources" in the Agency column.
On both pages you can view the text of the proposed rules and submit comments. All submitted comments will be forwarded to the appropriate agency rules coordinators. You will fill out a comment form and need to include contact information if you wish to receive a response.
There are many internal steps [PDF] that DNR and the Natural Resources Board must go through during the rule promulgation process. For permanent rules, the entire process generally takes about 31 months from initiation to promulgation.
The DNR rulemaking process can be broken down into eleven main steps. Steps 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8 all contain opportunities for public input.
- Statement of Scope* approved by DNR Secretary and Governor
- NRB meeting for authorization to hold preliminary public hearing on the Statement of Scope**
- Preliminary public hearing on Statement of Scope**
- NRB meeting for approval of Statement of Scope (includes conditional approval of public hearing notice and notice of submittal of proposed rules to the Legislative Council Rules Clearinghouse)
- Preparation of proposed rule
- Solicitation of information for economic impact analysis (this step only applies to permanent rules)
- Public hearings on proposed rule (and economic impact analysis, if a permanent rule)
- NRB meeting for adoption
- Rule approved by Governor
- Legislative review/hearings
- Rule signed by DNR Secretary and published
* The Statement of Scope is the DNR's public notice that it intends to begin the development of a rule.
** This step is required if directed by the Legislative Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR), per 2017 Wisconsin Act 57.
Economic Impact Analysis
2011 Wisconsin Act 21 [PDF exit DNR] made significant changes to how Wisconsin administrated rules are promulgated. The requirement to prepare an economic impact analysis (EIA) and solicit information for its preparation was part of that act. An EIA must be prepared for every permanent proposed rule before the Natural Resources Board can authorize public hearings on the rules, per s. 227.137, Wis. Stats [exit DNR].
The analysis must include "information on the economic effect of the proposed rule on specific businesses, business sectors, public utility ratepayers, local governmental units, and the state's economy as a whole. When preparing the analysis, the agency shall solicit information and advice from businesses, associations representing businesses, local governmental units, and individuals that may be affected by the proposed rule. The agency shall prepare the economic impact analysis in coordination with local governmental units that may be affected by the proposed rule. The agency may request information that is reasonably necessary for the preparation of an economic impact analysis from other businesses, associations, local governmental units, and individuals and from other agencies."