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Agency Comment Drafting Policy

MnSEIA Agency Comment Drafting Policy 

Section I: Definitions

1.      Draft Date - Is the day when a detailed outline of the prospective comments will be given to the Board. Members of the Board, and other interested members will then have at least 24 hours to make any changes to the outline.

2.      Edits - Cannot materially alter the content, or tactics. Only grammar, organization, diction, and other similarly small modifications fall in this category.  

3.      Final Board Approval – In order to submit a final draft, the Board must first approve the final draft by a majority vote of the voting board members.  A vote is held by Board members raising objections. Silence on the matter is considered a vote for the comments, unless specifically noted.

4.       Final Date - will be assigned at least one day prior to the time when the comments are due. On the Final Date, the Board and the relevant working group will receive a completed draft of the comments, and it, or any interested party, will have roughly 24 hours to make any edits to the draft.

5.      Materially Alter – A change to the content that is germane to the primary purpose of the document.

6.      Mutually Exclusive – It is impossible for two ideas to make logical sense if placed side by side. For example, if MnSEIA were to say in the same document – and with no caveats - that it both wants and doesn’t want X, then this would be mutually exclusive

7.      Redaction – any radical change in a policy position, or asking an agency to remove a set of comments that were previously sent.

8.      Reversal – any material change in a policy position.

9.      Worth Entering – MnSEIA will join the docket and interact within the agency’s protocols. As necessary, MnSEIA will draft comments, intervene in the docket, convene a working group or whatever other procedures are required to represent the organization and the interest of the solar community.


Section II: Assignment of Dockets

1.      Upon receiving notice of a new docket that is relevant to the solar community, a concerned MnSEIA member may inform MnSEIA’s Board of Directors (the “Board”), the Executive Director, or the Policy Director about the docket.

2. If a member alerts the Board to a docket and requests that MnSEIA enter the docket, the Board may either defer the decision to the Executive Director or the Policy Director, or the board may vote on whether the organization should enter the docket.

3.      The Board can also deem a docket worth entering on its own (i.e. without member notice).

4.      The Policy Director, or the Executive Director can determine what dockets are worth entering on their own initiative but they must inform the Board of their designation. If the Executive Director or Policy Director determines a docket is worth entering he must inform the other director in a timely fashion.

5.      If the Policy Director, Executive Director or the Board deems the docket worth entering, then the Policy Director and his staff will send out notice to the members about the newly entered docket. Members will then have an opportunity to join a corresponding email listserve, which is where the comments will be sent and where meetings notices will be posted, working group creation and other relevant updates. Once the listserve has been assembled, MnSEIA staff will begin drafting MnSEIA comments for the docket.

Section III: Development of General Comments

All general comments, which do not include reply comments, will follow the steps below:

1.      Upon learning about a potential comment filing date in a docket that was deemed worth entering, the Policy Director and their staff will determine both a Draft Date and a Final Date.

a.       Any edits made to the Final Draft cannot materially alter the document.

b.      If a content change is requested after the Final Date, then the Policy Director will have discretion on whether to include the modification, file the comments as is, or not file the comments.

c.       At least 2 hours prior to the comment period’s deadline, the Policy Director must receive  Final Board Approval of the document. Otherwise, the comments cannot be filed.

d.      The Board retains the ability to veto the comments and prevent them from being sent out.

2.      Prior to the Draft Date, the Policy Director or his agent, will survey the relevant installers, manufacturers, or other important industry stakeholders for their opinions on the docket’s matters. The survey will occur over the listserve or in a meeting derived therefrom, ensuring that those members that responded to the initial email notice are the ones that input is requested from.

3.      In the event that multiple members of MnSEIA have differing, but not mutually exclusive, viewpoints on how MnSEIA should develop the comments, then all the viewpoints will be presented in the same detailed outline and in the final comments. The Board, however, can strike one or many of the positions from the detailed outline. The Board can also add to the comments. Additionally, the Board can delegate its decision-making authority on these matters entirely, or in part, to the Policy Director and his agents.

4.      If the Board determines that there are two or more mutually exclusive viewpoints, and believes that the viewpoints cannot be presented in a way that will make sense to the receiving government agency without additional explanation, then the Board will need to defer the decision to the Policy Director, choose one set of comments to file, decide to not file the comments, or include the comments in one document but explain that MnSEIA is representing mutually exclusive viewpoints therein.  

5.      Under no circumstance will two separate and distinct comments be filed with the Board or a government agency, unless the second set of comments is a redaction of a previously filed comment, or the result of a clerical error.

6.      The Policy Director can choose to not file comments or reply comments for any reason. This does not grant the Policy Director the ability to veto comments, but prevents the Board from requiring the Policy Director to submit comments containing his signature when he is uncomfortable representing the comment’s contents. In the event the Policy Director refuses to file a set of comments, a representative appointed by the Board, or the Executive Director, may submit the comments in his stead.  

Section IV. Development of Reply Comments

Because reply comments are generally alterations to preexisting positions already included in the comments and because the reply comment filing period is occasionally shorter than the initial comment period, reply comments are subject to the different rules below:

1.      Unless the final comments will include a reversal or redaction of a previous position asserted in the initial comments, the Policy Director may only provide a Final Date. The Policy Director may also utilize the comments process as outlined in Section III at his discretion. The Board will have 24 hours to make non-material changes to the document.

2.      In the event that the Policy Director believes that a reversal or redaction of a previous position is necessary, then he will determine both a Draft Date and a Final Date as if the comments were an initial filing. If the Board does not agree that a reversal or redaction is necessary, then no comments will be filed unless a timely resolution is achieved.

3.      In the event that the Board, or another MnSEIA member, wants the reply comments to include a reversal or redaction of a previously asserted position, then they must email their request to the Policy Director and his agents, and the Executive Director within 36 hours from the time the initial comments were due. The Policy Director will have the discretion to accept or reject any request made for a reversal or redaction after the 36 hour window. After the email is received, the Policy Director will then determine a Draft Date for the newly revised reply comments. The request for a redaction or reversal will be treated as a differing opinion and will be included as a viewpoint in the reply comments, unless the Board determines that reversal or redaction is mutually exclusive and cannot be presented in a logical fashion to a government agency. In this event, the Board will treat the mutual exclusivity as it would in Section III, subsection 4.