(1) When the subject matter of a proposed rule is not of significant interest to the public, or an agency is not otherwise required and does not wish to hold a public hearing, the opportunity to submit written comments must be provided.
(a) The person designated in the notice to receive written comments from interested persons shall review all submissions within a reasonable time after the period for comment has ended. That person then shall prepare and submit a written summary of the comments to the rulemaker.
(b) The agency shall notify all persons who submit written comments that a list of interested persons exists and provide each commenter the opportunity to have the commenter's name added to that list.
(2) Except as otherwise provided by statute, public hearings shall be conducted in the following manner:
(a) The hearing shall be conducted by and under the control of a presiding officer. The presiding officer shall be appointed by the rulemaker; that is, the department, board, or administrative officer authorized by law to make rules for the agency. The rulemaker retains the ultimate authority and responsibility to ensure that the hearing is conducted in accordance with MAPA.
(b) At the commencement of the hearing, the presiding officer shall ask that any persons wishing to submit data, views, or arguments orally or in writing submit their name, address, affiliation, whether they favor or oppose the proposed action, and such other information as may be required by the presiding officer for the efficient conduct of the hearing. The presiding officer shall provide an appropriate form for submittal of this information. The presiding officer may allow telephonic testimony at the hearing.
(c) At the opening of the hearing, the presiding officer shall:
(i) read or summarize the notice that has been given in accordance with ARM 1.3.309;
(ii) read the "Notice of Function of Administrative Rule Review Committee" appearing in the register and on www.rules.mt.gov; and
(iii) inform persons at the hearing of the interested persons list and provide interested parties the opportunity to have their names placed on that list.
(d) Subject to the discretion of the presiding officer, the order of presentation may be:
(i) statement of proponents;
(ii) statement of opponents;
(iii) statements of any other witnesses present and wishing to be heard.
(e) The presiding officer or rulemaker has the right to examine any witnesses making a statement at the hearing. The presiding officer may, in the officer's discretion, permit other persons to examine witnesses.
(f) There shall be no rebuttal or additional statements given by any witness unless requested by the presiding officer, or granted for good cause. If such statement is given, the presiding officer shall allow an equal opportunity for reply.
(g) The hearing may be continued with recesses as determined by the presiding officer until all witnesses present and wishing to make a statement have had an opportunity to do so.
(h) The presiding officer shall, where practicable, receive all relevant physical and documentary evidence presented by witnesses. Exhibits shall be marked and shall identify the witness offering the exhibits. In the discretion of the agency the exhibits may be preserved for one year after adoption of the rule or returned to the party submitting the exhibits, but in any event the agency shall preserve the exhibits until at least 30 days after the adoption of the rule.
(i) The presiding officer may set reasonable time limits for oral presentation.
(j) A record must be made of all the proceedings, either in the form of minutes or a verbatim written, electronic, or mechanical record.
(k) The presiding officer shall, within a reasonable time after the hearing, provide the rulemaker with a written summary of statements given and exhibits received and a report of the officer's observations of physical experiments, demonstrations, and exhibits.
(3) In addition to the required rulemaking procedures, an agency may obtain viewpoints and advice concerning proposed rulemaking through informal conferences and consultations or by creating committees of experts or interested persons or representatives of the general public, per 2-4-304(2), MCA.
(a) An agency may establish a negotiated rulemaking committee to negotiate and develop a proposed rule if the agency director determines that the use of the negotiated rulemaking procedure is in the public interest, per 2-5-104, MCA.