A. Public participation guidelines for soliciting the input of interested parties in the formation and development of its regulations shall be developed, adopted, and used by each agency pursuant to the provisions of this chapter. The guidelines shall set out any methods for the identification and notification of interested parties and any specific means of seeking input from interested persons or groups that the agency intends to use in addition to the Notice of Intended Regulatory Action. The guidelines shall set out a general policy for the use of standing or ad hoc advisory panels and consultation with groups and individuals registering interest in working with the agency. Such policy shall address the circumstances in which the agency considers the panels or consultation appropriate and intends to make use of the panels or consultation.
B. In formulating any regulation, including but not limited to those in public assistance and social services programs, the agency pursuant to its public participation guidelines shall afford interested persons an opportunity to (i) submit data, views, and arguments, either orally or in writing, to the agency, to include an online public comment forum on the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall, or other specially designated subordinate and (ii) be accompanied by and represented by counsel or other representative. However, the agency may begin drafting the proposed regulation prior to or during any opportunities it provides to the public to submit comments.
2007, cc. 873, 916; 2012, c. 795.