The year 1983 was an active one for administrative law reform in Virginia. The Governor's Regulatory Reform Advisory Board completed its first full year of studying the state administrative process in Virginia, developing proposals for its improvement and drafting enabling legislation. The Board received a wide variety of suggestions from state employees, businesses, and the public at large in open hearings and through private correspondence. The result was the Board's first annual report, containing a series of proposed legislative reforms. The common thread of these reforms was an increased public involvement in bureaucratic decision-making creating broadly applicable regulations with the force of law. These reforms were enacted in 1984 by the General Assembly in amendments to the Virginia Administrative Process Act (VAPA) and the Virginia Register Act (VRA).
The three most salient of these reforms were the establishment of a Virginia Register of Regulations as a widely accessible source for the output of agencies engaged in rulemaking, the creation of an affirmative obligation on the part of rulemaking agencies to seek out and incorporate public input before drafting a new regulation, and the creation of an apparatus for political branch involvement in agency rulemaking decisions to replace the constitutionally defective legislative veto. This article will examine the amendments to VAPA and VRA, extrapolate some limits to their scope and efficacy, and offer some conclusions concerning the significance of the new legislation for the Virginia administrative process.
John Paul Jones, Legislative Changes to Virginia Administrative Rulemaking, 19 U. Rich. L. Rev.107 (1984).