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General Laws

Section 2. A public hearing is required prior to the adoption, amendment, or repeal of any regulation if: (a) violation of the regulation is punishable by fine or imprisonment; or, (b) a public hearing is required by the enabling legislation of the agency or by any other law; or, (c) a public hearing is required as a matter of constitutional right.

Prior to the adoption, amendment, or repeal of any regulation as to which a public hearing is required, an agency shall hold a public hearing. Within the time specified by any law, or, if no time is specified, then at least twenty-one days prior to the date of the public hearing, the agency shall give notice of such hearing by (a) publishing notice of such hearing in such manner as is specified by any law, or, if no manner is specified, then in such newspapers, and, where appropriate, in such trade, industry or professional publications as the agency may select; (b) notifying any person to whom specific notice must be given, such notice to be given by delivering or mailing a copy of the notice to the last known address of the person required to be notified; (c) notifying any person or group filing a written request for notice of agency rule making hearings such request to be renewed annually in December, such notice to be given by delivering or mailing a copy of the notice to the last known address of the person or group required to be notified; and (d) filing a copy of such notice with the state secretary.

The notice shall refer to the statutory authority under which the action is proposed; give the time and place of the public hearing; either state the express terms or describe the substance of the proposed regulation; and include any additional matter required by any law.

A small business impact statement shall be filed with the state secretary on the same day that the notice is filed and shall accompany the notice. Notwithstanding section 6, the state secretary shall include the full text of said small business impact statement on the electronic website of the state secretary; provided, however, that the full text of the small business impact statement may also be inspected and copied in the office of the state secretary during business hours.

That small business impact statement shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

(1) an estimate of the number of small businesses subject to the proposed regulation;

(2) projected reporting, recordkeeping and other administrative costs required for compliance with the proposed regulation;

(3) the appropriateness of performance standards versus design standards;

(4) an identification of regulations of the promulgating agency, or of another agency or department of the commonwealth, which may duplicate or conflict with the proposed regulation; and

(5) an analysis of whether the proposed regulation is likely to deter or encourage the formation of new businesses in the commonwealth;

The public hearing shall comply with any requirements imposed by law, but shall not be subject to the provisions of this chapter governing adjudicatory proceedings.

If the agency finds that immediate adoption, amendment or repeal of a regulation is necessary for the preservation of the public health, safety or general welfare, and that observance of the requirements of notice and a public hearing would be contrary to the public interest, the agency may dispense with such requirements and adopt, amend or repeal the regulation as an emergency regulation. The agency’s finding and a brief statement of the reasons for its finding shall be incorporated in the emergency regulation as filed with the state secretary under section five. An emergency regulation shall not remain in effect for longer than three months unless during that time the agency gives notice and holds a public hearing as required in this section, and files notice of compliance with the state secretary.

This section does not relieve any agency from compliance with any law requiring that its regulations be approved by designated persons or bodies before they become effective.

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