GUIDE TO MASSACHUSETTS ADMINISTRATIVE LAW
Table of Contents
"Administrative law deals with the field of legal control exercised by law-administering agencies other than courts, and the field of control exercised by courts over such agencies." Both state and federal administrative law operate in the same manner: the legislature delegates authority to administrative agencies, which then promulgate rules and regulations that have the authority of law over a particular subject matter. The Massachusetts Legislature delegates to administrative agencies the power to promulgate rules and regulations that have the force of law. Violation of these rules and regulations can result in fines, imprisonment, or other administrative sanctions (e.g. loss of license). For a list of Massachusetts General Law provisions enabling administrative agencies to promulgate rules and regulations, see chart 1, appended.
Notices for hearings on proposed regulations are published in the Massachusetts Register. Final regulations first appear in the Massachusetts Register and, in print form, are removed from the Massachusetts Register placed in the Code of Massachusetts Regulations (CMR). The official print CMR contains the current regulations, however, those regulations may be updated by emergency regulations published only in the Massachusetts Register. See the section "Updating the CMR" below for instructions on how to find emergency regulations.
Many state agencies conduct adjudicatory hearings for alleged violations of agency regulations. For example, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination promulgates rules and regulations that deal with discrimination in the workplace. The Commission conducts its own adjudicatory hearings; anyone who violates one of the rules promulgated by the MCAD may be brought to "trial" before the commission. The commission has the power to impose fines for conduct that violates its rules and regulations.
The published opinions of administrative hearings are sometimes available on the Web, on Westlaw or Lexis or other subscription databases, or through official and unofficial reporters. For a list of administrative agencies that conduct adjudicatory hearings and where their decisions can be found, see chart 1, appended.
The official source for codified Massachusetts administrative regulations is the Code of Massachusetts Regulations, KFM2435 1978 .A213 (5th floor reading room). This 25-volume, 37-binder set is published by the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. An unofficial version of the code is published in 28 volumes under the title Weil's Code of Massachusetts Regulations. Suffolk Law School Library does not carry Weil's unofficial version of the CMR.
The Code of Massachusetts Regulations is arranged based on three-digit numbers assigned to each agency that publishes regulations. The numbers range from 101 (Executive Office of Health and Human Services) to 995 (Pilot Commissioners: District One). An alphabetical list in the front of each volume, entitled "Massachusetts Agencies Published in the Code of Massachusetts Regulations, gives the three-digit number and corresponding volume(s) for each agency.
Each page of the Code of Massachusetts Regulations has a date in the lower left-hand corner. If the date is from 1995 or later it indicates the date the regulation was published in the Massachusetts Register. This date of publication is also the effective date of the regulation unless a different effective date appears in parentheses next to the date.
If the date is before 1995 it may or may not be the effective date of the regulation. To determine the effective date of a regulation in this case it is best to contact the Secretary of the Commonwealth's Regulations Division at 617-727-2831 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Using the CMR in Print
Finding regulations in the Code of Massachusetts Regulations is relatively simple when a citation is known. Citations to the Code of Massachusetts Regulations take the form "xxx CMR zzz," where "xxx" is the agency number and "zzz" is the section number. For example, 521 CMR 17.00 refers to section 17.00 (Restaurants) under agency number 521 (Architectural Access Board). To find the volume containing agency number 521 one can either scan the labels on the volumes' spines or consult the alphabetical list in the front of each volume that correlates agency numbers to volumes. Sections appear in numerical order under each agency, so once the correct volume is located you can easily turn to the desired section.
Finding relevant regulations is more difficult when a citation is not known. Options include:
(1) Using Weil's Index to the Code of Massachusetts Regulations
The Weil's Index has five parts: a subject index, regulation number index, table of authorities, emergency regulations index, and cumulative table. If you are looking for regulations on a general subject, use the subject index. Note: entries in the subject index are generally based on the table of contents, not the text of the regulations themselves. In addition, the subject index does not use cross references for related terms. Therefore, you may need to look under several possible terms, trying synonyms and alternatives, before finding a reference to a relevant regulation.
For example, when looking for regulations related to keeping honey bees, the only entry in the subject index is under "Apiary Inspection Regulations." There are no entries or cross references under "bees" or "honey bees."
Once a reference is found it is important to note that the citation given in the subject index is not to a specific section of the Code of Massachusetts Regulations, but to the agency number and the first page of the regulation that includes the indexed word or phrase. In the example given above, the citation for "Apiary Inspection Regulations" is "(17) 330 CMR - 65." The "330" in the citation is the agency number for the Department of Food and Agriculture and "65" is the page on which the regulation related to honey bees begins. The number in parentheses is the volume number of Weil's version of the code that contains the regulations. This volume number will likely be different than the volume number of the official Code of Massachusetts Regulations.
The other four parts of Weil's Index are less helpful in finding regulations when a citation is not known.
(2) Using annotated versions of the General Laws of Massachusetts
For example, in the index to the Massachusetts General Laws Annotated there is an entry for "bees" that cross references "Apiaries, generally, this index." The citation in the index under "Apiaries, generally" is to Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 128, Â§ 32 et seq. In the annotations after Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 128, Â§ 32, under Code of Massachusetts Regulations, is the following: "Apiary inspection regulations, food and agriculture department, see 330 CMR 8.01 et seq."
(3) Browsing the Code of Massachusetts Regulations
Updating the Code of Massachusetts Regulations in Print
Changes (additions, deletions, and modifications) to the Code of Massachusetts Regulations are published biweekly in the Massachusetts Register. Pages from the print Massachusetts Register are then inserted into the print Code of Massachusetts Regulations and the superseded pages are removed.
Regulations in the Code of Massachusetts Regulations are often amended by emergency regulations, which appear only in the Massachusetts Register, not the Code of Massachusetts Regulations. The emergency regulations index in Weil's Index to the Code of Massachusetts Regulations can be used to determine whether a given regulation is affected by an emergency regulation. If an emergency regulation is listed in that index, use the cumulative table to the Massachusetts Register for the current or past year to determine which issue of the Massachusetts Register contains the full text of the emergency regulation.
To determine whether an agency is considering proposed regulations or amendments, use the regulation number index in Weil's Index. Regulations that would be affected by a proposed regulation or amendment are indicated by the letter "P."
For example, to find the Massachusetts state building code in effect in 1990, use the microfiche for the 1990 version of the Code of Massachusetts Regulations that includes all of 780 CMR.
The CMR is updated biweekly in print and is updated regularly on Lexis within a month of the most recent biweekly update. Coverage for the Massachusetts Register begins from May 19, 1995 and is as current as the CMR on Lexis.
To find a regulation in the CMR when you have a citation, use Get a Document. For example, to find 105 CMR 150.001, click on Get a Document and enter: 105 CMR 150.001. To find a regulation in the CMR when you do not have a citation, use a keyword search that describes the subject of the regulation. For example, to find a regulation on nonpoint source pollution, enter nonpoint source pollution and view the retrieved documents for relevant regulations.
You can also search the CMR by table of contents on Lexis. When you select MA - Code of Massachusetts Regulations Table of Contents, a list of titles appears. Each document contains a hierarchical outline with descriptive headings, as well as a list of code sections. Use the markers to move through the levels of the outline and view code sections. You can use the Table of Contents to find terms to use in developing a full text search of the CMR. You can also put check marks in the boxes indicating the titles you want to search and thereby limit your search to parts of the CMR.
Updating the CMR on Lexis You can also search the Massachusetts Register on Lexis for any emergency regulations that might update your CMR section. To do this enter the search: subject(emergency regulations) & admin-cite([your code citation]). This search can be restricted by date as well.
If you do not know the citation, you may use a terms and connectors search that describes the subject matter of the regulation. For example, to retrieve regulations from the Department of Public Health on lead paint removal, select the MA-ADC database and enter the following search: pr,ca("department of public health") & "lead paint removal" or deleading.
The CMR is available on the Westlaw Patron Access Terminal that is located to the left of the Reference Desk on the 6th floor of the library.
Searching is the same as for Westlaw (above).
LOIS CD-ROM & Web
Searching Select MA Code of Massachusetts Regulations from the listing of available databases. The Table of Contents will appear at the bottom of the screen. Note that "reserved" sections are listed at the beginning. Select Code of Massachusetts Regulations and click on continue on the bottom right of the screen to retrieve a search template that will permit searching within portions of the regulations, including the title, chapter and part number. You can also search the full text of the code. For example, to find regulations relative to tanning facilities, enter "tanning facilities" in the "Regulation Text" field.
New permanent and amended regulations are removed from the print version of the Massachusetts Register and used to update the print version of Code of Massachusetts Regulations. The rest of the Massachusetts Register is kept on the shelf at least until the microfiche copy arrives (6th floor, drawer 234). Microfiche copies are available from 1987 to present.
Using the Massachusetts Register in Print
If you do not have a citation or volume number for the document you're looking for, you can do a Terms and Connectors search. See Tips for Using Westlaw and Lexis to Research Massachusetts Administrative Law for guidance. For more efficient searching, Lexis breaks the Massachusetts Register in fields. For example, the search: subject(emergency regulation) will retrieve all documents where the subject (i.e., document type) is "emergency regulation." This is an easy way to retrieve all emergency regulations passed within a particular time period.
Overview The Massachusetts Administrative Procedure Act, codified at M.G.L. Chapter 30A, §§ 1-17, governs the rulemaking and adjudicative functions of most Massachusetts agencies. It does not cover the legislative and judicial departments, nor does it cover military bodies, the division of dispute resolution of the division of industrial accidents, the personnel administrator, the civil service commission, or the appellate tax board.
Sections 1-8 deal with agency rule-making, including very explicit requirements for required hearings, the adoption and repeal, and publication of administrative regulations.
Sections 9-17 deal with adjudicatory proceedings, hearings for licensure, and judicial review of adjudicatory proceedings.
The department of youth services, the department of correction, and the parole board are subject only to sections 1-8.
Prior to the adoption, etc., of any regulation for which a public hearing is not required, the agency must post notice of its intention at least twenty-one (21) days before the action, unless another time is specified by law (§ 3). The same notice shall also be published by the Secretary of State no later than one week prior to the hearing or action. In each case, the notice must give the statutory authority under which it is proposed.
No hearing is required for emergency regulations, however emergency regulations may remain in effect for no more than three months, unless during that time the agency gives notice and holds a public hearing (§§ 2,3). Two copies of attested regulations must be filed with the secretary of state, and each must include a reference to the statutory authority under which they have been issued (§5).
Adjudicatory Proceedings: Rules of Procedure
For a summary of where to find decisions from adjudicatory hearings, see the agency table, appended to this research guide.
Last updated: October 6, 2010 by Ellen Delaney, Reference Librarian.
PROGRAMS ADMISSIONS FACULTY OFFICES & SERVICES
Suffolk University Campus Calendar Campus Cruiser Portal Law Library Directories Site Map
Login Email Mission Statement Contact Us