What Documents are Used to Compile Louisiana Administrative Law?
1. The Louisiana Register - This monthly periodical, published by the Louisiana Office of the State Register, provides a uniform system for making available to the public the certified regulations and legal notices issued by the executive branch of the state government. These include executive orders issued by the governor, agency rules and regulations having general applicability and legal effect, documents required to be published by act of the Louisiana Legislature, and other state agency documents of public interest. Each issue comes out on the 20th day of the month, and each issue contains an index that is cumulative for the year. However, the index is an agency index rather than a subject index, so it is important that one determine the issuing agency for any rules being researched. The documents published in the Louisiana Register fall into the following categories, which are listed in the tables of contents of each issue:
executive orders, emanating from the governor’s office and having the force of law;
emergency rules, issued by the executive agencies in response to a critical situation without providing for any public input;
rules, the final versions of agency regulations, published after all comments and suggestions from citizens have been analyzed and evaluated;
notices of intent, which is how the state refers to proposed rules;
Administrative Code updates, offers access by title, part, and section numbers to updates of sections which have appeared in the Louisiana Register;
a service which functions somewhat like the LSA does for the Federal Register,) and
Potpourri, a listing of miscellaneous items relating to such things at meeting notices or license exam dates.
2. The Louisiana Administrative Code (LAC) - This set comprises approximately eighty volumes containing state agencies’ rules that have been formally adopted or amended with legislative authority and through legal rulemaking procedure. The set is broken into various titles, each of which represents a broad subject area, such as natural resources or insurance. Then each title is broken into different part numbers, many of which are published in separate volumes. One major drawback to the LAC is that it has not yet been completed, so some regulatory areas do not yet have codified versions of the relevant rules. Also, until the set is completed, there is no comprehensive index. Searching for a particular topic involves looking through individual volume indexes, a cumbersome and time-consuming task. Furthermore, since some basic volumes may not have been revised for several years, trying to find the latest regulations in force requires trying to ascertain whether one has the latest codified volume, as well as tracking subsequent changes to that volume in the Louisiana Register. In certain instances, one may have to resort to contacting the appropriate state agency to determine what represents the latest regulations actually being used. The CFR seems to be a model of efficiency and timeliness when compared to the LAC, once again making state regulatory research more daunting than the same type of research on the federal level.
3. Telephone Numbers for State Agencies - Published annually by the Office of Telecommunications Management, this directory provides up-to-date addresses, telephone numbers, and fax numbers for all state agencies and their various departments. It can be a helpful resource to a researcher who doesn’t have a contact person for a particular agency, but who needs to question someone at the agency about a regulatory matter.
Louisiana Administrative Legal Research
Louisiana Regulatory Process
Creation of regulations
1. Proposed rules - The principle of citizen input and participation is a fundamental component of the state regulatory system as well, but the implementation and follow-through often fall short of that goal in practice. In Louisiana, the executive agency staff members create proposed rules which are then published as notices in the Louisiana Register. As in the Federal Register, contact persons and deadlines for comments are listed so that interested parties can register their suggestions and opinions regarding the rules before those rules take effect. Unlike the Federal Register, however, the Louisiana Register does not always publish the full text of the proposed or even the final rules. Due to space and financial constraints, sometimes only a notice will appear stating that a new proposed or final rule has been promulgated and is available for public viewing at some particular state office, usually in Baton Rouge, the state capital. In addition, since the Louisiana Register is published monthly rather than daily, the timeliness of state regulatory research is further compromised.
2. Final rules - Once the comment period for a proposed rule has ended, the state agency staff members overseeing that rule analyze and evaluate all the comments, and then issue a final rule which is published in the Louisiana Register. Unless otherwise specified within the text, the effective date of the rule is the date of the Louisiana Register issue in which the rule appears. In a number of instances, an emergency rule will be published to take effect immediately, bypassing the system designed for allowing public involvement in the regulatory process. There have also been instances where a particular state agency is using a set of rules that its staff members have issued, but that has not been disseminated through the normal regulatory channels. All of these factors make state regulatory research especially challenging and often frustrating.
3. Codified regulations - After a final rule has been published in the Louisiana Register, the next step is for it to be codified into the Louisiana Administrative Code (LAC), a subject arrangement of all Louisiana regulations currently in effect. However, because the individual LAC volumes are not updated on a regular basis, it is more difficult to ensure that you have found the latest version of a state regulation than it is for a federal regulation. Also, there are no indexes to help you locate updates and amendments, except for the cumulative monthly indexes in the Louisiana Register.
4. Conclusion - Most people are not aware of the extent to which their lives are affected on a daily basis by government regulations. From the air we breathe to the food we eat, from the clothes we wear to the music we listen to, from the cars we drive to the buildings we work in, every aspect of our existence is subject to government oversight. The network of laws and regulations is designed to protect and improve our lives and surroundings, and it is important for all of us to be informed regarding these matters. A basic tenet of our form of self-rule is that ignorance of the law (or the regulation) is no excuse.
LEXIS and Westlaw - State regulations are not as well represented on these two computerized legal databases as are federal regulations. Some state administrative codes are being added now, but the coverage is partial even for those few states represented so far, and even fewer state registers are offered. Currently, LEXIS offers thirty-nine state administrative codes, and thirty-one state registers, while Westlaw covers thirty-three administrative state codes and five state registers. Unfortunately, Louisiana is not included in either grouping, but both services plan to expand their scope to encompass all fifty states eventually. Each service also offers some selected state administrative regulations on particular topics, like insurance or environmental rules, in separate databases from the general state administrative ones. Since there is little consistency among the states regarding their administrative codes, the prospect of offering them online and keeping them up-to-date is a difficult one. LEXIS also provides access to a state regulation tracking service, which offers highlights of proposed and final regulations of the fifty states from 1990 to the present. This is more of a news service than an official source for regulations, but it could uncover helpful information that might be the basis for further regulatory research.
The Internet - State regulations are beginning to show up on the Internet, but it is difficult to do a comprehensive search of Internet resources. However, it is important to note that many states have web pages that provide access to their regulatory codes and updates. For example, Louisiana has a homepage, INFO Louisiana, [ http://www.state.la.us ] which contains information on a wealth of topics about the state. The LAC is not available in complete form yet on the Internet, but some sections have been added. They are available on the web site of the Office of the State Register [ http://www.state.la.us/osr/lac/lac.htm ]. In addition, many state agencies have their own web pages, which provide access to the regulations issued by that agency. Here in Louisiana, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has a web page that offers access to text files of DEQ regulations [ http://www.deq.state.la.us ] . It is important to note, however, that the versions on these state agency web pages may not be the official version of the regulations, which in Louisiana would be found in the LAC and the Louisiana Register [ http://doa.louisiana.gov/osr/reg/register.htm ]
1. Regulation: an order having the force of law, issued by executive authority of government, it is sometimes referred to as a rule.
2. Register: a publication that makes available to the public all the proposed and final agency regulations and other legal documents of the executive branch of government, e.g. the Louisiana Register which is published monthly.
3. Code: sometimes referred to as an administrative code, contains the codified (subject arranged) version of regulations arranged by titles and sections according to subject.