Research Guides

TMLL Research Guide - Chapter 9


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

Michie’s Index to the Code of Maryland Regulations is a one-volume subject index to COMAR.  It is republished annually.

Even if you do not find a regulation on the subject you are researching in the 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

COMAR is updated once each year.  Replacement pages note “Effective as of …” at the bottom.

To update COMAR, consult the "Cumulative Table of COMAR Regulations Adopted, Amended, or Repealed" available online at http://www.dsd.state.md.us/CumulativeTable.pdf.  It lists updates for each title of COMAR back to the point at which that title of COMAR was last supplemented.  The "Table of Pending Proposals," which is published in each issue of the Maryland Register, is cumulative until the proposed regulation is no longer pending, having either moved to the table of adopted regulations or been withdrawn.  It also is available online at http://www.dsd.state.md.us/ProposalTable.pdf.

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 print 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

It is not possible to BCite (Bloomberg Law), Shepardize (Lexis), or KeyCite (Westlaw) either COMAR or the Maryland Register.  Online searches can be constructed that use the COMAR citation as a search term.  However, since COMAR is cited in a variety of ways, care and flexibility must be used in formulating this type of search. 

Electronic sources

Bloomberg Law provides the full text of COMAR.

Lexis provides full text coverage of COMAR and the Maryland Register.  Additional administrative materials are available, including State Regulation Tracking, Public Service Commission Reports, and Securities Orders, Releases, and Letters.

Westlaw provides the full text of COMAR.  Although the text of the Maryland Register is not available, biweekly updates to the Westlaw version of COMAR are scheduled. 

The Lexis and Westlaw 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.”

On the Internet COMAR and the most recent issues of the Maryland Register may be searched at http://www.dsd.state.md.us/.  Maryland agency information is increasingly available 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.

Historical versions

Westlaw and Lexis have some historical coverage of state administrative regulations, including COMAR.  These historical versions are useful if you want to view how an administrative code section read at an earlier point in time.

To trace back the history of a COMAR section, you can use the historical versions of COMAR, or review the ”Administrative History,” which provides references to the Maryland Register publications of the original or amended versions of the COMAR section. On the free Division of State Documents version of COMAR, these references appear not in each COMAR section, but at the end of the subtitle.

When tracing a regulation back through the Maryland Register, you may find that the final regulation as published includes only changes from the original proposed version; thus the researcher must often review the proposed versions, published at an earlier date in the Maryland Register, for a complete version of the final regulation. 

State agency opinions, rulings, etc.

Some Maryland and other state agency decisions, and rulings can be found online on Bloomberg Law, Lexis, and Westlaw, or agency web site(s). Some states have a centralized panel of administrative law judges, like Maryland’s Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) http://www.oah.state.md.us/ which provides varied access to ALJ rulings from various agencies.

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:

             09 - title

 12 - subtitle

 01 - chapter

 02 - regulation

  B - section

(4) - subsection

(b) - paragraph

(ii) - subparagraph

Following the Bluebook, the current form of the COMAR reference above would be cited:

Md. Code Regs. 09.12.01.02B(4)(b)(ii) (2014).

The format for the citation appears in the Maryland section of Table T1 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 that appears on the page on which the provision is printed or the year that appears on the first page of the subdivision in which the provision appears - in that order of preference ..."

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 T1 of the Bluebook.  For additional guidance 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:

40:14 Md. R. 1176-1177 (July 13, 2013) (to be codified at COMAR 10.58.07).

Following the Bluebook, the same notice of proposed action would be cited:

40 Md. Reg. 1176 (2013) (to be codified at Md. Code Regs. 10.58.07).

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