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California Research In-Depth

This State Guide provides an in-depth look at sources of law within the state of California.

Administrative Law

The Governor of California heads the executive branch of the state's government. The Governor's cabinet consists of twelve senior appointed officials who serve at the Governor's pleasure.

A. Executive Branch


The Governor is elected by the citizens of California and may serve no more than two four-year terms. The Office of the Governor maintains an official web site with information about the Governor's duties, responsibilities and programs. Some of the Governors duties and responsibilities include the following:

  • The presentation of the State of the State Address to the members of the legislature at the beginning of each legislative session;
  • Presentation of the annual budget to the legislature with anticipated revenue and expense statements;
  • The power to veto any bill passed by the Legislature and return it with his objections to the house of origin;
  • Line item veto power over appropriations bills;
  • The duty to submit an itemized budget to the Legislature within the first 10 days of each calendar year;
  • The power to fill vacancies in the judiciary and appoint individuals to fill vacant positions within the executive departments of the government;
  • The power to acts as the Commander in Chief of the militia of the state and represents the state in official communications between other states and the federal government.

The Lieutenant Governor is also elected to a four year term, and his service cannot exceed two terms in office. The Office of Lieutenant Governor maintains an official web site with information about his programs duties and responsibilities. The Lieutenant Governor performs duties delegated by the Governor. If the Governor leaves office before the end of the four year term for any reason, the Lieutenant Governor becomes Governor.

The Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Controller, Secretary of State, and Treasurer shall be elected at the same time and places and for the same term as the Governor. No Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Controller, Secretary of State, or Treasurer may serve in the same office for more than 2 terms. Cal. Const., art. V, § 11.


Along with members of his immediate staff, the Governor's Cabinet is composed of the secretaries and directors of the following state agencies: (1) Secretary of Food and Agriculture, (2) Secretary of Business, Transportation and Housing (3) Secretary of Environmental Protection; (4) Secretary of Child Development and Education; (5) Secretary of Health and Welfare; (6) Secretary of Resources; (7) Secretary of State and Consumer Services; (8) Secretary of Trade and Commerce; (9) Secretary of Veterans Affairs; (10) Secretary of Youth and Adult Corrections; (11) Director of Finance; and (12) Director of Industrial Relations.

California Agencies, Departments and Commissions web site provides access points to California governmental resources. The departments listed below play an important role in the daily operations of the state of California:

California Secretary of State The Chief Elections Officer of the State of California is an elected official who can serve no more that two four-year terms. The duties and responsibilities of the Secretary of State include the following:

  • The State's Chief Elections Officer overseeing all aspects of the voter registration and participation;
  • The California Automated Lobbyist And Campaign Contribution & Expenditure Search System (CAL-ACCESS) which facilitates the "electronic filing and Internet disclosure of campaign and lobbyist financial information";
  • Chartering corporations and other business classifications;
  • Overseeing the State Archives;
  • Filing official documents from Uniform Commercial Code financing and tax lien information to certificates of limited partnerships and limited liability companies.

California Attorney General The Attorney General is an elected official who can serve no more that two four-year terms. Some of the key duties of the Attorney General include:

  • Ensuring the laws of California are equitably enforced and applied;
  • Being the representative of California citizenry in litigated matters before state and federal court jurisdictions;
  • Acting as legal counsel to state officers, and with a few exceptions, state agencies, boards and commissions;
  • Assisting district attorneys, local law enforcement officers, federal and international criminal justice agencies in the administration of justice;
  • Promoting efforts to protect the citizens of California, "from fraudulent, unfair, and illegal activities that victimize consumers or threaten public safety, and enforces laws that safeguard the environment and natural resources."
  • Attorney General Legal Opinions -- Opinions of the Office of Attorney General are searchable by month, year, keyword or citation.
    • Westlaw: CA-AG provides access to the California Office of the Attorney General Opinion letters since 1977.
    • Lexis: Legal > States Legal - U.S. > California > Agency & Administrative Materials > CA Attorney General Opinions. (CAAG) from January 1960 through Current.
    • Print: Opinions of the Attorney General of California (1943-2007),KFC780.A55 C3

Other state elected officials include:

  • State Treasurer's Office The duties and responsibilities of the Treasurer's Office include overseeing and managing investment and financial matters of the state. The office is also responsible for financing public works projects.
  • State Controller The Controller is responsible for providing "sound fiscal control over more than $100 billion in receipts and disbursements of public funds a year [and] offer[s] fiscal guidance to local governments and uncovering fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars."

B. Regulations

The California Office of Administrative Law oversees the regulatory process by "ensur[ing] that state agency regulations are authorized by statute and are consistent with other law." The Office of Administrative Law also publishes a document entitled "How to Participate in the Rulemaking Process" that provides citizens with information on the processes and procedures involved in rulemaking. The director and deputy director of the Office of Administrative Law are appointed by the Governor subject to state Senate confirmation. The California Government Code § 11340-11342.4 establishes the creation of the Office of Administrative Law and sets forth its organization, duties and responsibilities.

The Office of Administrative Law (OAL) was created to review adopted agency regulations for compliance with standards set forth in California's Administrative Procedure Act. The legislative intent behind the creation of OAL was not to have the office [or the court] "substitute its judgment for that of the rulemaking agency as expressed in the substantive content of adopted regulations." Cal. Gov't Code § 11340.1.

Office of Administrative Law. Provides links to Recent Disapproval Decisions, 2000-2012 (Office of Administrative Law's decision summary that details the specific grounds for disapproval of agency proposed rule changes) and Determinations (Office of Administrative Law's advisory opinion that interprets whether or not an agency rule is a regulation and subject to the Administrative Procedure Act).


Regulations are administrative laws that govern the operations of state agencies. The California Code of Regulations consists of 28 titles that contain the codification of state agency regulations. The list of CCR Titles, the CCR and an Agency list. as well as the full text of California Code of Regulations is available here.


  • Barclay's Official California Code of Regulations. Includes separate bulletin; digest of new regulations and unnumbered volumes; master table of contents and master index.
    • Print: Barclay's Official California Code of Regulations KFC35 1990 .A22. Collection includes a Master Index which contains a subject index and a Statutes to Regulations Table.
    • Westlaw: CA-ADC (online version of Barclay's )
    • Lexis: Legal > States Legal - U.S. > California > Statutes & Regulations > CA - Barclays Official California Code of Regulations
  • California Code of Regulations (CCR)
  • Comprehensive Index, California Code of Regulations KFC35.5U58 A23 Index (Library has 1988-93, 1997-1999). A subject index and conversion tables for California Codes and California Code of Regulations is published annually and updated by pocket parts.


The Register contains notices of proposed regulatory actions and final regulations filed with the Secretary of State.

  • California Regulatory Notice Register Online. "Contains notices of proposed regulatory actions by state regulatory agencies to adopt, amend or repeal regulations contained in the California Code of Regulations." The text of the regulation sections affected is contained in the Register. Available in PDF format, the Regulatory Notice Register is published every Friday by the California Office of Administrative Law.
  • California Regulatory Code Supplement. Published weekly by Barclays, the supplement is often referred to as the "Register." The California Regulatory Code Supplement is where the Final Regulations are first published. This publication is not available locally.
    • Westlaw: (CA-REGTRK), (CA-REGTXT) & (CA-REG-NET).
      • The California Regulation Tracking (CA-REGTRK) "database contains summaries and status information concerning pending and recently-adopted regulations." Database is updated daily.
      • The California Regulation Tracking - Full Text (CA-REGTXT) database contains the full text of pending and recently-adopted regulations. Each stage of a particular regulatory initiative is a document. Updated daily and covers all versions of regulatory initiatives.
      • The California Regulation Tracking and Text - Combined (CA-REG-NET) multibase combines CA-REGTRK and CA-REGTXT. Includes regulation summaries and initiatives for all states and is updated daily.
    • Lexis:
  • California Regulatory Law Reporter
    • Print: California Regulatory Law ReporterKFC780.Z9 C3 This quarterly journal published by the University of San Diego School of Law's Center for Public Interest Law monitors and reports on the regulatory, legislative and litigation activities of 25 California State Agencies. Also contains articles and commentary on public interest topics and regulatory law.
    • Westlaw: (CRLR) database contains articles, notes, symposium contributions, or other materials that have appeared in the California Regulatory Law Reporter. Coverage: 1994 (vol. 14)-Current.


The Building Standard Code (BSC) is compiled by the California Building Standards Commission, an independent commission under the Consumer Services Agency. The BSC is published every three years and is a compilation of the building standards that: (1) "have been adopted by state agencies without change from building standards contained in national model codes," (2) "have been adopted and adapted from the national model code standards to meet California conditions," (3) have been "authorized by the California legislature, that constitute extensive additions not covered by the model codes that have been adopted to address particular California concerns."

C. Administrative Orders, Decisions, and Opinions

In addition to making regulations, California agencies have a quasi-judicial function and issue orders, decisions, and opinions.


  • Lexis and Westlaw have the issuances of some California agencies among their databases. After signing on, follow these paths to find the lists of what's available:
    • Lexis: Legal > States Legal - U.S. > California > Agency & Administrative Materials
    • Westlaw: All Databases > U.S. State Materials > Other U.S. States > California > Administrative & Executive Materials

D. Other Administrative Law Resources

  • State Administrative Manual Published by the California Department of General Services the manual provides information on statewide policies, procedures, regulations and information developed and issued by authoring agencies.
  • California Tax Reporter KF6289.3 C34 Electronic. The CCH Tax Research Network provides access to the California Tax Reporter which includes California tax law, regulations and tax court decisions.
  • Checkpoint (RIA) KF6289.A1 C44 Electronic. Full-text coverage of California tax statutes, regulations, cases, rulings, and other official material. Search by tax type, document type and keyword.
  • See the In-Depth Research Guide, State & Local Tax Research for further information on locating state specific tax resources.
  • BNA California Environment Reporter KFC610.A15 B63 Vol. 1, no. 1 (Nov. 12, 1990)-v. 5, no. 9 (Mar. 1995); cont'd by:
    • California Environmental Compliance Monitor KFC610.A15 B63. Vol. 5, no. 10 (Apr. 3, 1995)-v. 7 (1997);
  • Richard J. Denney, Jr., ed., California Environmental Law Handbook, 11th ed. KFC610 .C34.
  • B.E. Witkin. Summary of California Law, 10th edition. KFC80 .W5. A 16-volume, highly regarded and frequently cited treatise with detailed analysis of the law along with substantive, procedural and historical information. Volume 7, Constitutional Law addresses Administrative proceedings.
  • B.E. Witkin. Witkin Combined Index, 2005 edition. KFC80 .W522. The combined index contains references to Witkin's Summary of California Law, California Procedure, California Evidence and California Criminal Law. Use the index to locate the desired topic.
    • Westlaw: WITKIN
    • Lexis: Legal > States Legal - U.S. > California > Restatements & Jurisprudences > Witkin Treatises.