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Website to help Ohioans track rules and regulations

State agencies make more than 9,000 actions on rules and regulations each year about everything from driver’s licenses to air quality regulations to low-income housing programs.

Lawmakers launched on Monday an online tracking system to make it easier for average Ohioans to navigate and track rule changes and public hearings on proposed rules. The website allows anyone to track specific rules or rules by subject, such as agriculture, cosmetology or education.

Lawmakers on the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review said the goal is to better inform business owners and other Ohioans of rule changes that impact them.

“We don’t necessarily know how onerous or illogical a rule might be until folks who actually have to deal with these rules point it out to us,” JCARR member Sen. Frank LaRose, R-Akron, told reporters on Monday.

Before Rule Watch, people had to know the rule number and contact the agency or JCARR, a panel of lawmakers from both chambers that makes sure agencies stay within their law-given authority, to find out the rule status. JCARR also offered a lengthy, weekly email of all the week’s rule filings.

Rule Watch will send users an email on their tracked rules the next business day after an action has taken place. The website also tracks upcoming meetings about rules or subjects being tracked.

Registration on Rule Watch is free, and LaRose said the site won’t spam people with unnecessary emails.

JCARR Chairman Rep. Ross McGregor, R-Springfield, said he and other JCARR members often get calls about a rule an hour before the committee meets and they might have to ask the agency to take more time, delaying the process. McGregor said he hopes more people will become involved in the rulemaking process before it’s too late.

“We’re giving another porthole for Ohioans to become involved in the regulatory rule process,” McGregor said. “And clearly the earlier one gets involved, the better impact and perhaps outcome they may have.”

Agencies typically have to hold a public hearing a month after submitting new or revised rules to JCARR. LaRose said Rule Watch emails will include information about how people can submit public comment before rules are reviewed by JCARR.

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