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 About Rule-Making Agencies and Other Governing Bodies

Who Makes Rules...

...in the Executive Branch?

Rules are made by constitutional officers, cabinet secretaries, major departments, divisions within departments, and by boards, commissions and authorities established by law. For that reason, it is sometimes hard to identify the governing body which has authority to make rules on a particular subject. For example, the Secretary of State is the Chief Election Officer of the state, but the Legislature assigned specific authority to the State Election Commission to make rules on campaign finance.
  • Constitutional Officers: The six statewide elected executive officers each have administrative responsibilities which may require rules. The Governor administers through the agencies, boards and commissions under his authority. The State Auditor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Treasurer, and Commissioner of Agriculture administer assigned duties directly.
  • Cabinet Secretaries and Executive Departments: The Governor appoints a Secretary for six of the major departments under his direct authority. In some cases, specific authority to make rules falls to the Office of the Secretary. In other cases, the specific department is the rule-making authority. The cabinet-level departments are: Administration, Education & Arts, Health & Human Resources, Military Affairs & Public Safety, Tax and Revenue and Transportation. Some other departments, such as Energy and Commerce report directly to the Governor and do not have a Secretary. The larger departments are divided into different divisions built around specific functions, and each of those may have rule-making authority.
  • Independent Departments: In West Virginia, the Department of Education and the Department of Higher Education are not directly under the control of the Governor or the Secretary of Education & Arts , but instead are controlled by governing boards or commissions.
  • Boards and Commissions: The Legislature (or in some cases the Constitution) may create a board, commission, council or other authority and assign duties and rule-making authority to that body. This usually happens when the Legislature wants the decision-making authority to be partly in the hands of persons having direct knowledge of the subject matter or to establish a balance of interests in the administration of a program. For example, the executive agency involved with natural gas drilling is the Office of Oil and Gas, with a chain of authority up to the Governor. The Shallow Gas Well Review Board also has duties related to gas drilling, but operates independently.

...in the Legislative Branch?



Few rule-making entities exist in the legislative branch since the Legislature does most of its work through making law. However, whenever the Legislature creates an ongoing working body such as the Commission on Special Investigations, that body may need rules to handle day-to-day operations issues.


...in the Judicial Branch?


The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals does make rules, but they are not subject to the Administrative Procedures Act and are not filed with the Secretary of State. For information about the rules of the Supreme Court which govern the practice of law, the magistrate courts, the circuit courts of appeals, and any other part of the judicial branch, visit the website of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.