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Rulemaking in Wisconsin is governed by chapter 227. Unlike in Minnesota, however, rules in Wisconsin are more strictly reviewed by legislative bodies; additionally, no OAH-like entity exists.

Rules in Wisconsin are published and edited by the Legislative Reference Bureau, an entity similar to the revisor's office in Minnesota. The bureau also publishes and edits the Wisconsin version of the Minnesota State Register, the Administrative Register.

Compared to Minnesota, the rulemaking process in Wisconsin is downright confusing and cumbersome. Better resources exist to describe the process, but you should recognize some key differences between Wisconsin and Minnesota:

  1. Wisconsin has a heavier focus on the economic impact of an agency rule, with more legislative power to request economic-related analysis on a proposed rule. This emphasis on economic impact applies to potential impacts on small businesses, which then triggers a requirement involving the Small Business Regulatory Review Board.

  2. Wisconsin does not have a formal OAH-type review, but there is a less-intrusive review done by the Legislative Council Administrative Rules Clearinghouse. Some of its functions also mirror those of the revisor's office.

  3. A rule in Wisconsin must be approved by legislative committees, including the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR). JCRAR has substantial powers and ability to influence agency rules. Nothing like it exists in Minnesota or at the federal level.

The main takeaway is that rulemaking in Wisconsin has more hoops for agencies and has strict legislative control and influence.

Select Current and Recent Wisconsin Rules

June 23, 2021: The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board voted to begin developing rules on groundwater standards for PFAS and a half-dozen pesticides.

July 8, 2021: The Wisconsin Supreme Court found that the Wisconsin DNR can place permit restrictions on large livestock farms and high-capacity wells. The Court found that the DNR has the authority to ensure that permits comply with discharged waste and groundwater-protection standards.

2021 Legislative Session Recap: new rulemaking provisions.

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