Georgetown Law
Georgetown Law Library

Virginia Research In-Depth

This State Guide provides an in-depth look at sources of law within Virginia.

Administrative Law

Administrative law consists of the regulations and decisions made by government agencies and other entities which fall under the executive branch (the Governor's office) of the Commonwealth. These agencies, boards, and commissions are empowered by the General Assembly to implement and enforce state law through the promulgation of rules and regulations.

1. Executive Branch Structure

The Executive Branch consists of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and the Boards and Departments that serve them. See the Organization of State Government chart.

  • Office of the Governor - The Governor has the chief executive power of the Commonwealth. His responsibilities include making sure the laws are faithfully executed, acting as chief of the armed forces, and interacting with other states and foreign entities. The Governor cannot serve more than one consecutive term of office (he/she may "skip" one or more terms).
  • Office of the Lieutenant Governor - "The official responsibilities of Virginia's Lieutenant Governor as described by Article V of the Virginia Constitution are to preside over the state Senate, but casting a vote only in the event of a tie. And in the case of removal of the Governor from office or in case of his disqualification, death, or resignation, the Lieutenant Governor shall be Governor."
  • Office of the Attorney General - The Attorney General renders official written advisory opinions on issues of Virginia law when formally requested by the Governor, a member of the General Assembly, a state court judge, the State Corporation Commission, a Commonwealth's Attorney or county attorney, or other designated government officer.
  • The Governor's Cabinet - The Secretaries of the Commonwealth are responsible for providing overall supervision and direction to the agencies which report to them. By law they also have the power to resolve conflicts between their agencies, direct preparation of their budgets, and hold agency heads accountable for effective and efficient performance.
  • All Virginia Agencies

 

2. Regulations

Administrative law in Virginia is governed by the Administrative Process Act, Va. Code Ann. § 2.2 et seq. Administrative law consists of the regulations and decisions made by Virginia agencies, whether executive or independent. Basic procedure includes publication of proposed and final regulations in the Virginia Register of Regulations, and publication of final regulations by topic in the Virginia Administrative Code.

The process of promulgating a regulation is clearly explained in the Legislative Information Service web site: "An agency wishing to adopt, amend, or repeal regulations must first publish [the proposed regulation] in the Virginia Register a notice of intended regulatory action. . . [the agency then accepts] public comments for a minimum of 60 days . . . The Governor reviews the proposed regulation to determine if it is necessary to protect the public health, safety and welfare, and if it is clearly written and easily understandable . . . When final action is taken, the agency again publishes the text of the regulation as adopted, highlighting all changes made to the proposed regulation and explaining any substantial changes made since publication of the proposal. A 30-day final adoption period begins upon final publication in the Virginia Register . . . A regulation becomes effective at the conclusion of the 30-day final adoption period, or at any other later date specified by the promulgating agency . . ." For a more detailed description, including exceptions and special rules, see Regulatory Process in Virginia from the Virginia Register Online.

Administrative Codes and Registers

  • The Virginia Register, KFV2436. V5 (The library is missing issues from 2002 through November 2005) published every other week, includes proposed and final rules and regulations. Indexes are published quarterly, with a final annual cumulative index for each volume. Regulations in the Virginia Register are published by status (proposed or final), and by Virginia Administrative Code title.
  • The Virginia Administrative CodeKFV2435 1992 .A22, is the official source for promulgated rules and regulations currently in effect. It is organized by subject in 24 titles, and is updated twice a year with an Annual Supplement located in the front of each volume. There is a General Index as well as indexes at the back of each title. There is also a conversion table which translates Virginia Register provisions. Each regulation entry in the Virginia Administrative Code includes the text of the regulation and historical notes with information about its proposed and final entry in the Virginia Register, amendment information, and annotations to statutory law, case law and secondary sources. The Administrative Code also publishes Executive Orders, meeting and hearing schedules, and general information about agencies.

FINDING THE CURRENT REGULATION THAT COVERS YOUR ISSUE

  • Print: To begin a general search for regulations on a certain topic, use the general print index, or browse the list of titles at the front of each volume, and then the table of contents at the beginning of each title. If you already know the regulation citation from the Virginia Register, you can use the conversion table in the Conversion Tables and Appendices volume to find the correct section.
  • Internet: Virginia Administrative Code. Use the search function and relevant keywords to find the appropriate section, or use the table of contents to browse. The advantages to using this version is its currency, and the ease in updating (see Updating your Sections below).
  • Bloomberg, Lexis and Westlaw: Search the correct database or file with relevant keywords to find the appropriate section, or use the table of contents to browse. Bloomberg, Lexis and Westlaw provide current information, and the "Current as of" date is given for each section. (On Bloomberg, this information is available through the "General Info" link.)

FINDING PROPOSED AND FINAL REGULATIONS IN THE VIRGINIA REGISTER

  • Print: Our library holds Virginia Register KFV2436. V5. To find a print regulation, see the index published most recently (either the annual cumulative index, or the quarterly index). You will need to backtrack through each quarterly index published since the most recently annual index, and then each annual index until the appropriate regulation is located. You can search for a regulation in the Alphabetical Listing of the index, or browse by Code title. Indexes are bound with the Register issues and, with a few exceptions, not separately listed in the online catalog. [An effective way to find a regulation is to locate the regulation in the Virginia Administrative Code and use the citations to the Virginia Register found in the Historical Notes after the text of the regulation.]
  • Internet:Virginia Register contains pdf format from October 1984. The index issues are not available, however, so it is advisable to use the search feature.
  • Bloomberg, Lexis and Westlaw. Bloomberg, Lexis and Westlaw have information and text of current proposed and final regulations. However, only Lexis has the Virginia Register (1999 - ).

Updating your Sections: In the Books

  • The first step in updating a regulation section (making sure it is current) is to use the Virginia Administrative Code. Check the annual supplement at the front of each volume which should contain the most up-to-date print version of any section that was recently changed. If there is no listing in the annual supplement for the section, check the regular section of the Administrative Code and note the date of the last amendment or the date of derivation.
  • The next step in updating a section is to use the "Cumulative Table of Virginia Administrative Code Sections Adopted, Amended or Repealed" (the list is cumulative for each calendar year) which is printed in each edition of the Virginia Register. Use the table found in the most recent issue of the Virginia Register, and check the list for the relevant code section. If the section is listed with a more recent date than the amended or derived date of the version you are using, make sure to use the language and citation of the final regulation.

Updating your Sections: Online

  • Bloomberg, Lexis and Westlaw:
    • Bloomberg. Find the section in the Virginia Administrative Code (see "Where to find Virginia Regulations" below) and note the "current through volume" statement under the "General Info" link. If it is not current through the most recent issue of the Virginia Register, check all the issues of the Virginia Register that have been published since the Virginia Administrative Code was updated in Bloomberg for any new final regulations. Make sure to note the effective date. Tip: The most up-to-date source of the Virginia Register is the version that's free online.
    • Lexis. Find the section in the Virginia Administrative Code (see "Where to find Virginia Regulations" below) and note the "current through" date at the top. If it is not current through the most recent issue of the Virginia Register, check all the issues of the Virginia Register that have been published since the Virginia Administrative Code was updated in Lexis for any new final regulations. Make sure to note the effective date. Tip: The most up-to-date source of the Virginia Register is the version that's free online.
    • Westlaw. Find the section in the Virginia Administrative Code (see "Where to find Virginia Regulations" below). If it is not current, Westlaw will show a red Keycite flag at the top of the section and provide a link to any amending regulations. Be sure to check the effective dates of any listed amendments.

 

WHERE TO FIND VIRGINIA REGULATIONS?

Virginia regulations are easily available both in print and online.

3. Administrative Orders, Decisions, and Opinions

Some Virginia executive officers and agencies publish their orders and decisions, but most do not. See the following:

Executive Orders. An Executive Order is a law executed by the the Governor of Virginia. The Governor usually issues an Executive Order to accomplish a specific purpose. Virginia's Executive Orders web site contains information on the current Governor's Executive Orders, as well as selected Orders of past Governors, and a list of all Executive Orders still in effect.

  • 1984 - 2000; 2005 - CurrentVirginia Register. [See above "Where to Find Virginia Regulations"]
  • Library of Virginia - Executive Orders (currently in effect)

Opinions of the Attorney General: The Attorney General renders official written advisory opinions on issues of Virginia law when formally requested by the Governor, a member of the General Assembly, a state court judge, the State Corporation Commission, a Commonwealth's Attorney or county attorney, or other designated government officer. The opinions are compiled in The Annual Report of the Attorney General of Virginia and Opinions Of The Attorney General And Report To The Governor Of Virginia. Each report contains a name index, subject index, and indexes to the statutory and Constitutional provisions cited for that volume. Cumulative ten-year indexes to the Annual Report up to 1987 are also available.

The State Corporation Commission is an independent agency with regulatory authority over many business and economic interests in Virginia. It has a unique structure in that it is organized as a separate department of government with delegated administrative, legislative, and judicial powers. SCC decisions can only be appealed to the Virginia Supreme Court. For more information, click here.

The SCC holds hearings under its adjudicatory authority. Case information, including decisions, dockets, and public filings, is available here. Background, organization, documents, proceedings, and other information are available here.

The Workers' Compensation Commission is responsible for administering the Virginia Workers' Compensation Act. Opinions are available from:


Virginia Taxation