MARYLAND ADMINISTRATIVE MATERIALS
The Code of Maryland Regulations, more commonly known as COMAR, was created in 1974 to meet the need for a formal, topical compilation of the rules and regulations issued by Maryland agencies. At the beginning of each volume of COMAR there is a detailed preface describing both the purpose and the use of COMAR. Generally, each department of state government has been assigned its own title in COMAR. An individual title may occupy more than one physical volume.
At the end of every chapter of regulations in COMAR there is a reference headed "Administrative History" that gives the original effective date of the chapter as well as the dates of any amendments. At the beginning of the chapter of regulations is the statutory authority for that chapter.
The Maryland Register is issued every other Friday and serves several purposes. Executive orders of the governor and opinions of the attorney general are published here, generally before they appear anywhere else. New and changed court rules are also published here. Perhaps most importantly, proposed and final changes and additions to administrative regulations are published in the Maryland Register. The purpose is much the same as that of the Federal Register, to provide notice to interested parties and to give the public an opportunity to comment on the changes and additions before they become final.
Finding Maryland Regulations by Topic
One comprehensive finding aid for COMAR is the COMAR Deskbook, which is divided into several sections. The master subject index is located in the section following the "Index" tab, while the master table of contents is behind the "Regulation Titles" tab. As with other statutory and administrative compilations, COMAR regulations must often be used in conjunction with one another. This table is a convenient source to check for other nearby sections that may be of significance. Each of the titles of COMAR also has its own table of contents.
In addition, the COMAR Deskbook contains an authority table. This table allows the researcher to determine what regulations have been promulgated under each section of the Maryland Annotated Code. This table provides the only cross referencing from the Maryland Code to COMAR and is located following the "Authority" tab.
Even if you do not find a regulation on the subject you are researching in the master subject index, one may have been added since the last update of the title of COMAR into which the new regulation will be inserted. Updated indexing is provided by the separately published quarterly "Cumulative Index" to the Maryland Register. Printed on yellow paper, this index allows you to check subject headings department by department for late additions. Keep in mind, however, that because it is only published quarterly, and even then with about a six-week delay, you will still need to check the tables of contents of all the subsequent issues of the Maryland Register to bring your research completely up to date.
Updating Maryland Regulations
By law, each title of COMAR is to be updated at least once each year. These updates are issued at different times and under different schedules for each title, and are referred to as "supplements".
At the bottom of each republished page of COMAR, there is a supplement number. This number indicates with which supplement the text on that page took its current form. At the beginning of each title (not necessarily each volume) is the most recent "Certificate" page giving both the closing date of the most recent regulations incorporated in that update and the dates when the earlier supplements to that title were issued. Here you will find the number of the most recent supplement that updated the title, when it was issued, and what the effective date was.
To update, consult the most recent issue of the Maryland Register and locate the two-part section entitled "COMAR Research Aids." These tables are similar to the List of Sections Affected" that is used with C.F.R. and the Federal Register. The "Cumulative Table of COMAR Regulations Adopted, Amended, or Repealed" lists updates for each title of COMAR back to the point at which that title of COMAR was last supplemented. When using this to update a COMAR reference, be sure that the date listed for your title and subtitle matches the supplement date for the title and subtitle of COMAR that you are updating. If the newest pages for the title of COMAR were not filed in a timely fashion, there will be a gap in your research. The "Table of Pending Proposals" is cumulative until the proposed regulation is no longer pending, having either moved to the table of adopted regulations or been withdrawn.
References from the "Cumulative Table of COMAR Regulations Adopted, Amended, or Repealed" are to the page in the Maryland Register where the proposed regulation was made final. In almost all situations the text of the new regulation will not be printed here, but there will be a cite to the page in the earlier issue of the Maryland Register where the text of the proposed regulation did appear. On the other hand, the "Table of Pending Proposals" cites directly to the point where the full-text of the proposed regulation was first set forth. The Thurgood Marshall Law Library has two copies of all the sources described above: COMAR, the Maryland Register, the COMAR Deskbook, and the quarterly Cumulative Index.
Finding Cases That Interpret or Affect the Validity of a Regulation
Currently it is not possible to Shepardize a COMAR (or Maryland Register) provision in Shepard's Maryland Citations. Similarly, one cannot Shepardize or KeyCite these materials online. An online terms and connectors search can be constructed that uses the COMAR citation as a search term; since the citations are generally a unique string of characters, this technique works quite well.
Citation form for COMAR and the Maryland Register
COMAR citations take an unusual form. Each of the components has been assigned a specific name by the compilers. For example, in the citation 09.12.01.02B(4)(b)(ii) the components are:
Following the Bluebook, the current form of the COMAR reference above would be cited:
The format for the citation appears in the Maryland section of Table T. 1 of the Bluebook. For determining the year to use in the parenthetical, the most analogous rule is Bluebook Rule 12.3.2. While it deals with statutory codes, it also provides guidance for citing to administrative codes. The operative portion of the rule states that "[i]f a code is published in looseleaf form, give the year on the page on which the provision is printed or the year on the first page of the subdivision in which the provision appears - in that order of preference ..." While it is arguable that the supplement number that appears at the bottom of all republished pages of COMAR should be construed as the year (in this example, 2000), it seems more within the policy behind the rules in the Bluebook to use the year that appears on the "Certificate" page at the very beginning of that title of COMAR (1997). Note, however, that the suggestion for citing to COMAR given in the preface of each volume of that set is quite different from what is set forth in the Bluebook.
As with COMAR, the rule and examples set forth in the Maryland Register for citing to itself are quite different from what is prescribed in the Bluebook. The abbreviation for the citation appears in the Maryland section of Table T. 1 of the Bluebook, although the format is not given. For that you must analogize, and the closest rules are 14.1 and 14.2, which deal with federal administrative sources, including the Federal Register. The general examples of the format to follow for the Federal Register are in Rules 14.1 and 14.2.
Following the Maryland Register, a recent notice of proposed action would be cited:
Following the Bluebook, the same notice of proposed action would be cited:
Westlaw provides the full text of COMAR in the MD-ADC database. Although the text of the Maryland Register is not available, biweekly updates to the Westlaw version of COMAR are scheduled.
The Westlaw (and Lexis) versions of COMAR include a disclaimer stating that the electronic version is not considered official text and that “... only the printed version of this text is official, valid, and enforceable under Maryland law.”
Lexis provides full text coverage of COMAR [States Legal U.S. : Maryland : Agency & Administrative Materials : MD Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR)] and the Maryland Register (States Legal U.S. : Maryland : Agency & Administrative Materials : MD Maryland Register). Additional administrative materials are available in the following files, all located in the Source Directory path “States Legal U.S. : Maryland : Agency & Administrative Materials”:
On the Internet COMAR and the most recent issues of the
Maryland Register may be searched at http://www.dsd.state.md.us/.
Though not yet extensive in content, Maryland agency information
is beginning to appear on the Web. Some agencies provide
organizational or procedural information, as well as hearings
calendars and the text of recent rulings. Thus it is worth
checking when working with a state agency to see what
is available through this source. One site with extensive
links to state agencies, boards and commissions is the
Maryland homepage at: http://www.maryland.gov/.