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Administrative rules website launched to make process more open, accessible

Branstad 1By The Iowa Statesman

 

During their weekly press conference this morning, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds announced the launch of a new website aimed at making it easier for citizens to comment on proposed state administrative rules.

The purpose of the site, Rules.Iowa.gov, which was built and will be maintained by the Chief Information Officer’s Office, is to allow the public the opportunity to comment on administrative rules in the notice process. Through the website, Iowans may view administrative rules that are open for comment, rules that are receiving higher views than others, comment on rules online, find contact information for each specific rule, learn how much longer the comment period is open and inquire about the administrative rule process.

Members of the public have 20 days to comment on a rule from the date of publication. Individuals may comment on all administrative rules open for comment on the website.

“Public participation in forming administrative rules helps Iowa reform burdensome rules and prevents overregulation and government red tape thus encouraging efficiency, economic growth and job creation,” Branstad said.  “We are pleased to launch Rules.Iowa.gov today to give Iowans greater access to their government and the ability to weigh-in on proposed rules conveniently and effectively at any time during the rule process.”

Reynolds said the new website streamlines a process that currently requires Iowans interested in commenting on proposed rules to navigate through multiple webpages. Currently, to view proposed rules online, Iowans must navigate to five different pages:
• the Legislature Website,
• then to the Iowa Law and Rules Webpage, and
• then to the Iowa Administrative Rules Webpage to find the Rules Tracker page.

Once there, Iowans can view a rule, but can’t comment the rule. Rules.Iowa.Gov creates a one-stop shop for viewing rules and commenting on proposed rules they’re interested in.

“Since taking office, Governor Branstad and I have continuously worked to make government more open and transparent,” Reynolds said. “Visiting all 99 Iowa counties each year, live-streaming our press conferences, using social media tools and taking questions via ‘Ask the Gov.’, are great tools for interacting with Iowans. This new website is accessible 24/7 for Iowans to voice their opinion on government rules and brings yet another element of transparency to government.”

CIO staff demonstrated the use of the new website for members of the media. Branstad said the creation of the Iowa Public Information Board a few years ago has generated far more interest in public accessibility to the rule-making process. He anticipated the new website will likely result in more public hearing requests, and he hoped it would result in “outmoded and out-of-date” rules, or those that “overstep the boundaries of government,” being eliminated.

Branstad also took questions regarding state response to the HPAI H5N2 outbreak in Iowa. He said he has spoken with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack about the issue, and noted that he has requested a secretarial disaster declaration.

He also took questions regarding the closure of the mental health institutes in Mount Pleasant and Clarinda, and the stalemate in the Iowa House of Representatives over his signature anti-bullying bill. He said he anticipates the legislative session will extend into the first week of June. Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (D-Council Bluffs) has said there will not be floor debate this week due to the absence of senators.

Branstad also discussed the Republican Party of Iowa’s Lincoln Dinner held over the weekend, as well as concerns that candidates may opt out of the Iowa Straw Poll to be held later this year in Boone. He said he is supportive of the changes made by the State Central Committee, and he urged candidates to “come to Iowa early and often,” to participate in every event leading up to the first-in-the-nation caucus, and to visit all 99 counties.

He also discussed the budget process and his role in developing a plan that can pass both chambers of the General Assembly. He said his staff has emphasized with the legislative leadership of both parties the need for a budget that not only works for the two-year period, but is “sustainable” for a projected five-year period.