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How to Find an Oregon Administrative Rule History

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Finding the history of a judicial opinion or a statute is relatively straightforward, if only because we do that research so often. This is not the situation when researching the history of a regulation or other administrative rule, especially at the state level.

Also, most of the time we’re looking to update the law (regulation, case, or statute), that is finding out how the particular law reads today, not what it said 10 years ago or how it got to be what it is now, that is, what happened x years ago that made the rule change to what it is now.

So, how do you find the history of an Oregon administrative rule?
Here are some administrative rule history research tips:

1) Read about the administrative law process (and the Oregon Administrative Procedures Act (APA)). It’s hard, if not impossible, to research administrative law without understanding, uh, administrative law.

2) If you are researching a rule that is more than a couple years old, some of the documents you will need may not be online. Even print versions of the superseded Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR) can be found at only a handful of libraries. But, before you throw up your hands, do a little homework first:

3) If you look at the Oregon Administrative Rules and Bulletin website, you’ll find information about how to track the history of an administrative rule:

Specifically see the section titled ‘Understanding an Administrative Rule’s “History”’:

State agencies operate in a dynamic environment of ever-changing laws, public concerns and legislative mandates which necessitate ongoing rulemaking. To track the changes to individual rules and organize the rule filing forms for permanent retention, the Administrative Rules Unit has developed for each rule a “history” which is located at the end of rule text. An administrative rule “history” outlines the statutory authority, statutes implemented and dates of each authorized modification to the rule text. Changes are listed in chronological order and identify in abbreviated form the agency, filing number, year, filing date and effective datet. For example: “OSA 4-1993, f. & cert. ef. 11-10-93” documents a rule change made by the Oregon State Archives (OSA). The history notes that this was the 4th filing from the Archives in 1993, it was filed on November 10, 1993 and the rule changes became effective on the same date. The most recent change to each rule is listed at the end of the “history.”

4) If you don’t have access to the “Oregon Bulletin” for the years you need, you have a couple of options:

a) “Locating Administrative Rules Unit Publications: The Oregon Administrative Rules Compilation and the Oregon Bulletin are available in electronic and printed formats. Electronic versions are available on this web site. Printed copies of these publications are deposited in Oregon’s Public Documents Depository Libraries listed in OAR 543-070-0000 and may be ordered by contacting: Administrative Rules Unit, Oregon State Archives, 800 Summer Street NE, Salem, OR 97310, (503) 378-5199

b) And then, if you don’t find the underlying documents you think might exist, contact the Agency Rule Coordinator for the Rule you are searching. They can be very helpful and knowledgable!

For more Oregon administrative law links, visit the Boley Law Library research website