The Ohio administrative code rules that govern Ohio's child welfare programming are developed by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services' Office of Families and Children (OFC).
What process does OFC use to revise the Ohio Administrative Code rules?
OFC policy staff revise the rules using a software package provided by the Ohio Legislative Service Commission. After the internal process is complete, the legally prescribed JCARR process, called “promulgation,” begins. This is an eight-step process that has time frames attached:
- Pre-Clearance — Rules must be requested in the Register of Ohio 30 days before work begins. This 30 day period is the time frame during which rules are posted on www.ohiorulereview.org. After 30 days, when OFC policy developers review the rules to determine the need for amendment, the rules are removed from the website and all comments are provided to OFC for consideration.
- Clearance — Rules undergo a five business day, internal OFC review and a 14 business day external review to ensure that all affected areas have the chance to comment. These reviews occur simultaneously to give all stakeholders the opportunity to comment on the proposed rules. After the clearance period, OFC staff review all comments, determine how they affect the rules, and develop and issue responses to each. Further revisions may be needed as a result of the clearance comments. Historically, clearance brings lots of comments and the need for revisions. It is hoped that this website, which facilitates stakeholder comment prior to promulgation, will greatly reduce the need for revision at this stage.
- Original Filing — OFC staff create a rule “package” and upload the rules and any appendices to the Register of Ohio’s electronic rule-filing website. The Common Sense Business Regulation Checklist is completed. If the checklist identifies the rules as impacting Ohio businesses, they undergo analysis by the Governor’s Common Sense Initiative Office to determine if the regulatory intent of the rule justifies its impact to businesses. Rules then undergo legal review and a public hearing notice is developed.
- Public Hearing — Responses to testimony presented in the public hearing must be sent within five to seven business days of the hearing.
- JCARR Hearing — This meeting gives JCARR committee members the opportunity to ask questions of the rule-making agency (in this case, OFC) to ensure that the rule and any changes do not exceed the agency’s statutory authority.
- Final Filing — The effective date for rules is set at this time. OFC gives counties 30 days' notice before rules become effective, so if the rules are final-filed in May, the effective date is June.
- Publication — Once the effective date is set, the rules package is sent to the ODJFS Electronic Publications Form Unit to be published electronically and update in the ODJFS eManual.
How long does the revision and publishing process take?
Without any revisions or comments, a rule may be finalized in approximately seven months. Comments or revisions in multiple areas can extend the timeframe to as long as 18 months. The following factors influence how long it takes a rule package to move through the process:
- Comments through the internal clearance processes
- Comments through the external clearance processes
- Legal issues or new language suggestions that may be raised
- Issues or comments raised by JCARR and/or the Legislative Services Commission
- Public comment
Like any legislative process, the rule promulgation process can be lengthy and labor-intensive. For those awaiting the final rule, the time lapse between comment and effective date can be daunting. Each step is important, however. The process allows for public comment and prevents overreaching or unrealistic regulations from being implemented.