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Researching Texas Law: Administrative Rulemaking & Agency Procedure

Assists users in researching Texas agency rulemaking and regulatory issues.

Finding Final Rules

Since 1976, Texas has required that all state agency rules and regulations be published and made available to the public. The Texas Administrative Procedure Act, found in Texas Government Code chapters 2001 and 2002, sets out the laws that all state agencies must follow when considering and adopting rules. Chapter 2002 also mandates that these rules be published in two different formats: the Texas Administrative Code (Tex. Gov. Code 2002.051) and the Texas Register (Tex. Gov. Code 2002.011).

Texas Administrative Code

The Texas Administrative Code, or TAC, is the official compilation of Texas agency rules and regulations. Published annually by the Texas Secretary of State, it includes all rules adopted by Texas state agencies. The full text of the current TAC is located at the Texas Secretary of State's website. From this website, one may browse the code by title, part, chapter, subchapter, or section number, or search by keyword. The TAC does not include proposed rules, emergency rules or rules that were not adopted.

The TAC is located in print in the library's collection at KFT1235 1988 .A2. The final volume of the set includes a keyword index.

Finding Non-Final Rules

Texas Register

The TAC includes only final rules. The Texas Register is the official repository of all other versions of state agency rules, including proposed new rules, revised rules, and repeals of existing rules. The full text of current issues is free to view and search through the Secretary of State's website.

Under the Administrative Procedures Act, all proposed rules must be published in the Register several times (Tex. Gov. Code 2002.001 et seq.). Every proposed rule must cite the statutory authority under which it's being promulgated; this is usually found at the beginning of the rule.

The Register is also the only source for emergency rules, comments on proposed rules, and analytical materials, unless an agency chooses to publishes them on its website. In addition to rules, it includes a variety of public information: gubernatorial documents, AG opinions, public notices, corrections, lottery numbers and other public documents. It's a great source of intent information when doing a rule history.

The Texas Register was published twice weekly from 1976-1997 and is now published weekly, as mandated by statute. All back issues from issue #1 to the present are archived and freely available on the University of North Texas' Portal to Texas History. When searching in the Register, if you don't have a specific citation, try looking at each issue's Table of Contents, which is organized by type of rule and includes emergency rules, proposed rules, and adopted rules.

The Texas Register is located in print in the library's collection at KFT1234 .A2 T49.

Types of Rules

These are types of rules you might encounter while researching in the Texas Register.

Public Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

  • First publication of proposed rule changes or new rules
  • Includes a 30-day opportunity for public comment

Draft Rule

  • Any changes after the first public notice are republished as draft rules, with additional comment time

Withdrawn Rule

  • Notice that a proposed rule has been completely withdrawn from the rulemaking process

Final/Adopted Rule

  • Includes a formal notice of adoption and the effective date of the most recent draft rules
  • Often does not reprint the full text of the new rule; see the TAC or previous publications in the Register for that

Emergency Rule

  • These are special, temporary rules NOT printed in the TAC, since they have a fixed expiration date and are meant to address a transient emergency situation
  • No comment period is required
  • They are effective upon publication in the Register

Rule Review

  • The rule equivalent of the statutory sunset process
  • The notice & comment process is similar to rule proposals, but for existing, non-amended rules

Other Places to Find Rules & Regulatory Information

Agency websites

State agency websites often have links to all of the agency's rules and governing statutes, as well as proposed rules, comments, licensing forms, and more. The availability, format, and currency of the information vary greatly by agency - larger, better funded agencies tend to have a lot more information available.

TRAIL state agency list

This list includes links to all state agency websites, including archived versions of sites and snapshots of the sites of agencies that no longer exist.