Administrative Rules

The Policy and Budget team is responsible for coordinating the process for proposed changes to DPI administrative rules. The list of all proposed rule modifications that are currently in process can be viewed either by chapter or by promulgation step.

What is a rule?


Under Wis. Stat. 227.01 (13), an administrative rule is defined as "a regulation, standard, statement of policy, or general order of general application which has the effect of law and which is issued by an agency to implement, interpret, or make specific legislation enforced or administered by the agency or to govern the organization or procedure of the agency." Rules may be required because of a court decision or legislation, or may be modified through an agency's own initiative. However, agencies such as DPI are only permitted to promulgate an administrative rule if they have the authority to do so.

The rulemaking process in Wisconsin has different steps and varies along different dimensions, including type of rule (permanent and emergency) as well as subject matter (involving housing, energy, small business, etc., which require additional considerations). However, the Department of Public Instruction is not required to follow all of these steps. Pursuant to Coyne v. Walker, the Department of Public Instruction is not required to obtain the Governor’s approval for the statement of scopes; the Department's economic impact analysis is not reviewable by the Department of Administration (DOA) and the Governor does not approve the final rule before it is sent to the Legislature. Coyne v. Walker, No. 2013AP416, 2015 WL 686178 (Wis. Ct. App. Feb. 19, 2015).

Promulgation activity for administrative rules can take 9-12 months to complete. The information below describes the basic rulemaking steps employed by DPI and most agencies.

Steps for Rule Promulgation:


1) Statements of Scope.

The first step in the rulemaking process is preparation of a scope statement that sets forth information about the agency’s intended rulemaking, including the objective of the proposed rule, the statutory authority for the rule, and a description of all entities that may be affected by the rule. Scope statements must be prepared for both proposed permanent rules and emergency rules.

2) Proposed Rules Submitted to Rules Clearinghouse.

Once a statement of scope has been published in the Administrative Register and approved by the State Superintendent, the rule can be sent to the Legislative Rules Clearinghouse for review. Most rules are promulgated as permanent rules.

Emergency Rules

If preservation of the public peace, health, safety, or welfare necessitates placing a rule into effect prior to the time it could take effect as a permanent rule, the agency may initially adopt the rule as an emergency rule. Once a statement of scope for an emergency rule has been published in the Administrative Register and approved by the State Superintendent, the rule can be submitted for publication and is effective upon publication in the official state newspaper for a period of 150 days, with the option for an extension as approved by the Legislature.

3) Agency Hearing.

After an emergency rule is published, a public hearing must be held. After a permanent rule is submitted to the Rules Clearinghouse for review, DPI holds a public hearing before the rule is submitted to the Legislature unless the rule changes are technical changes.

4) Rules Submitted to Legislature.

Once a public hearing is held or if no public hearing is required, a permanent rule can be submitted to the Legislature for either passive review or legislative action if any of the standing committees object to the rule. Emergency rules are not required to be submitted to the Legislature. Under Wis. Stat. 227.19 (2), a rule is referred to one standing committee in each house before being submitted to the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules.

5) Final Rules.

After legislative review, the final stage of the rulemaking process is filing the rule. The following rule changes have been reviewed by the Legislature and have recently become effective or will become effective soon.

External Links

Wisconsin Administrative Code. The official index of all permanent rules currently in effect.

Wisconsin Administrative Register. The official publication of the updates and changes of the Wisconsin Administrative Code.

DPI Administrative Code. The official index of all DPI permanent rules currently in effect.

For questions about this information, contact Carl Bryan (608) 267-9127