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California Administrative Law

Information on locating California regulations, guidance, administrative decisions, and executive orders and proclamations online and at the UCLA Law Library.

Finding Historical Text of Regulations

Basic Approach

As discussed under How Regulations Are Made, the California Code of Regulations (Code) is published in loose leaf binders. Each week, the publisher mails out a new packet of hole punched pages called the Register. Subscribers remove and throw out outdated pages from the loose leaf binders and replace them with new pages from the Register. This means that finding historical copies of a regulation is difficult.

If you have the citation to a specific regulation, start by retrieving the regulation on the official government website, Westlaw, Lexis, or Nexis Uni, using the links provided on the Current Regulations page. Look at the end of the regulation for a list of Register citations, identifying each Register that enacted or amended the regulation. Use these citations to locate the regulatory text.

For example:

  • Imagine that you need to know the text of Cal. Code Regs. tit. 3, § 900 in 1985.
  • The list of Register citations at the end of the section indicates that the regulation was amended in 1972 by Register 72, No. 32 and then not amended again until 2007 by Register 2007, No. 22.
  • To find the text of the regulation in 1985, you can retrieve either:
    • Register 72, No. 32, or 
    • Any version of the Code published between 1972 and 2007, including the 2002 to 2006 versions that are readily available online.

Online and CD-Rom Historical California Codes of Regulations (2002-)

Year-end snapshots of the Code are available on Westlaw, Lexis, and Nexis Uni:

The UCLA Law Library also purchases CD-ROMs of the Code, released irregularly up to every two months (January, March, May, July, September, November). The CD-ROM Codes can be helpful when a regulation has been amended more than once within a year but must be accessed in person at the law library:

Microfiche Historical California Codes of Regulations and Registers (1945-2002, library missing 1980, 1981, and early 1990)

There are no online copies of historical Codes and Registers before 2002 but most libraries own copies in microfiche and a few own print copies for selected years.

The UCLA Law Library owns microfiche copies, located in the law library's microform room, at the east end of the first floor. Historical regulations from 1945 to 1979 are located in the microfiche cabinets at the back of the room, immediately followed by historical regulations from 1990 to 2002. Historical regulations from 1982 to 1990 are located in binders on the shelves in the front of the room.

Researchers are encouraged to ask for help at the library's reference desk. However, if you prefer to strike out on your own, detailed information on using the microfiche sets is provided below:

Indexes to Historical California Codes of Regulations (1982-1990)

UMI published yearly indexes to the California Code of Regulations, available on the second floor of the law library and in the law library's microform room:

California Regulatory History Materials at Other Libraries

If you are a current UCLA student, staff, or faculty member and you need access to Registers that are missing from the UCLA Law Library collection, please stop by the reference desk or contact the law library emails for UCLA students or faculty for help obtaining interlibrary loans.

If you are not currently affiliated with UCLA, please contact other local libraries to ask about their collections or contact the Witkin State Law Library, which is located in Sacramento and has a comprehensive collection of California regulatory materials.

Checking the Agency Website

Regulatory History Materials on Agency Websites

For most regulations published since the mid-1990s, the best starting point for understanding why the regulation was passed is the agency website.

As discussed on How Regulations Are Made, agencies write the draft and final text of the regulation, as well as an Informative Digest, Initial Statement of Reasons (ISOR), and Final Statements of Reasons (FSOR), explaining the purpose and anticipated impacted of the regulation and summarizing and responding to public comments. These materials are not formally published and were previously only available by contacting the agency directly. Today, however, most agencies routinely post these materials to their websites. 

Usually, you can quickly find the agency website by Googling its name and making sure to select a website on the California government's domain. The California government also maintains a directory of agency websites:

Once you've located the agency website, browse or search for pages with titles related to rulemaking or regulations. 

Deletion of Materials from Agency Websites

In July 2019, many agencies deleted large swathes of regulatory history materials to comply with Cal. Gov’t Code § 11546.7, which mandates that all materials on agency websites by accessible to screen readers. See Wes Venteicher, California Disability Law Has Costly EffectsSacramento Bee, Oct. 29, 2019, 12:15 PM.

If you check an agency website and only see regulatory history materials from the last few years, check to see if archived versions of the page have any deleted materials:

Searching Regulatory Tracking Materials

For regulations published since 1990, also check the regulatory tracking materials on Bloomberg, Westlaw, Lexis, and Nexis Uni. The tracking materials typically do not include the detailed ISORs and FSORs available on the agency website, but they can provide you with a basic timeline of how the regulation was passed, the draft and final text of the regulation, excerpts of the Notice Register (see below), and, sometimes, links to agency websites that can be copied into the Wayback Machine. 

Westlaw and Bloomberg provide the following regulatory tracking materials:

Lexis provides the following regulatory tracking materials:

If you do not have a Lexis account, you can access Lexis materials on Nexis Uni instead:

Finding Notice Registers

Strategies for Locating Relevant Notice Registers

The Notice Register is a weekly pamphlet that publishes notices of proposed regulations, as well as basic information on their content and anticipated impact. Unfortunately, there is no direct way to go from the final regulation to the Notice Register.

As discussed above, the history section at the end of each regulation provides citations to the Register that enacted the regulation and each Register that amended the regulation. The Register is a pamphlet of hole punched pages of new regulations that are inserted as replacement pages into the California Code of Regulations binders. The Register provides no citations to the Notice Registers that led to each regulation's enactment and the Notice Registers have never been systematically indexed or made searchable online.

To locate Notice Registers, start by checking the agency's website and the regulatory tracking materials as described above. These sources can help you identify the dates of relevant Notice Registers. 

If these sources don't provide you with the information you need, you'll need to use the history section at the end of the regulation to identify the dates of the relevant Registers. Then, for each relevant Register, start with the Notice Register published immediately before the Register date and begin flipping backwards through the Notice Registers, scanning each table of contents for references to your regulation.

Sources of Historical Notice Registers

The Office of Administrative Law posts Notice Registers from 2018 forward on its website:

The OAL first began posting Notice Registers to its website in 2002. However, in 2019, the OAL deleted all Notice Registers posted before 2018 in order to comply with Cal. Gov’t Code § 11546.7, which mandates that all materials on agency websites be accessible to screen readers.

Notice Registers from 2002 to 2017 remain available through the Archive of the California Government Domain:

Additionally, the UCLA Law Library maintains a near comprehensive collection of Notice Registers in print, beginning with issue 16 in 1974.

All of the Notice Registers are arranged in chronological order on the library's second floor at KFC36 .C2. However, the Notice Registers have different entries in the catalog to reflect the Notice Register's repeated name changes:

Notices of Regulations Before 1974

Before 1974, agencies mailed notices of proposed regulations directly to those affected and to whichever trade newspapers and journals the agency felt were relevant (1947 Cal. Stat. 2985, c. 1425, sec. 11). In most cases, these notices are likely unrecoverable but the best bet to obtain them is to contact the agency.

Requesting the Rulemaking File

Since July 1, 1980, agencies have been required to maintain rulemaking files containing most major rulemaking materials, including all notices published in the Notice Register, the Informative Digest, Initial Statement of Reasons (ISOR), and Final Statement of Reasons (FSOR). The agency must either make the file available to the public itself or transmit the file to the Secretary of State so that the Secretary of State can do so. See Cal. Gov’t Code § 11347.3.

Unfortunately, it's hit or miss whether agencies actually preserved the rulemaking files and getting agencies to provide copies of the rulemaking files can require repeated requests. If possible, start with any specific agency staff members named in the Notice Registers or regulatory tracking materials and be prepared to follow up repeatedly and pursue other strategies in the meantime. 

Retrieving Underground Regulation Determinations and Disapproval Decisions

About Underground Regulation Determinations and Disapproval Decisions

The California rulemaking process is supervised by an agency called the Office of Administrative Law (OAL), which has the authority to issue:

  • Underground regulation determinations, determining that a rule the agency is enforcing informally is actually a regulation and must be either abandoned or passed formally through notice-and-comment rulemaking.
  • Disapproval decisions, issued at the end of the notice-and-comment rulemaking process and rejecting regulations if the agency has failed to properly follow the process, such as by allowing inadequate time for public comment.

Finding Underground Regulation Determinations and Disapproval Decisions

Usually, your research on the agency's website, in regulatory tracking services, or in the Notice Registers will alert you that a regulation was subjected to an underground regulation determination or disapproval decision.

From there, you can retrieve the determination or decision in print or from the OAL website. Additionally, because the OAL issues only a small number of determinations and decisions each year, it's usually possible to quickly skim the determinations and decisions for the relevant years to check whether or not there are any addressing the regulation you are researching.

Retrieving Underground Regulation Determinations 

The OAL's website formerly posted the full text of all its underground regulations determinations, from the first determination in 1986 to the present day. However, in 2019, the OAL deleted all of the determinations to comply with Cal. Gov’t Code § 11546.7, which mandates that all materials on agency websites by accessible to screen readers.

Most determinations are available from an archived version of the agency website:

Additionally, the un-archived decisions from 2018 to April 2019 have been re-posted to Box:

The current OAL website lists underground regulation determinations from 2006 forwards and provides contact information to ask the OAL for copies:

Retrieving Disapproval Decisions

Some early disapproval decisions were published in full in the Notice Register. Other early disapproval decisions are available in print at the law library and the Young Research Library (YRL), a short walk to the law library's north:

Beginning in the 2000, the OAL began posting disapproval decisions to its website. However, in 2019, it deleted all disapproval decisions to comply with Cal. Gov’t Code § 11546.7, as discussed above.

Decisions from 2002 to April 2019 remain archived at the following links:

The current OAL website lists disapproval decisions from 2010 forwards and provides contact information to ask the OAL for copies: