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(a) When Delegated Final Decision Making Authority.

(1) In arriving at a decision, the Hearing Officer shall use the preponderance of the evidence as the standard of proof.

(2) The Hearing Officer shall issue a final decision and order in writing, including separate findings of fact and conclusions of law. The findings of fact shall concisely state the conclusions reached on each contested issue of fact and shall be based exclusively on the evidence of record and matters officially noticed.

(3) The Hearing Officer shall mail a copy of the final decision and order to each party or the party’s attorney of record. The Hearing Officer shall inform the parties that a party who is aggrieved by the final decision is entitled to judicial review thereof by the circuit court for the county where any party resides or has a principal place of business. A party obtains judicial review by filing a petition for judicial review with such court within 30 days from the date the final decision and order is mailed.

(b) When Designated to Conduct a Hearing on Behalf of Commission. When the Commission designates a Hearing Officer to conduct a hearing, the Hearing Officer shall:

(1) Within 60 days of closing the record, prepare a proposed decision and order including separate statements of findings of fact and conclusions of law;

(2) Mail a copy of the proposed decision and order to each of the parties; and

(3) As part of the mailing in subsection (b)(2) of this section, inform the parties, in writing, that they may file written exceptions to the proposed decision and order within 30 days of the date of the proposed decision and order. (REG-LGS-GC-2014-002 § VI)