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Texas Legal Resources at Tarlton

A guide to finding Texas law in the Tarlton Law Library.

Regulations

State agencies operate in much the same way that federal agencies do. Given the authority by legislative action, agencies promulgate rules that help with the practical implementation of the laws passed by the legislative body of the state. The Texas Office of the Attorney General publishes an annual Administrative Law Handbook that provides a helpful overview of the Texas regulatory process.

For in-depth information about finding Texas regulations, visit Tarlton's guide on finding a regulation and navigate to the Finding Texas Regulations page. 

Texas Register

Weekly publication of proposed and final rules, gubernatorial appointments, notices of meetings, and other items concerning Texas agencies. Quarterly indexes are later combined into a yearly index.

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Texas Administrative Code (TAC)

The Texas Administrative Code Act requires that all administrative rules be compiled and indexed. Final rules first published in the Texas Register are arranged by subject and then published in the Texas Administrative Code. The Texas Administrative Code is published yearly in softbound volumes. To update the TAC in print:

  1. Look at the title page of the volume to determine the date through which the volume is current.
  2. Check the most recent cumulative quarterly index of the Texas Register covering the time since the TAC volume was published. The section of the index titled "TAC Titles Affected" will give the citation to the Texas Register where there has been an actual or proposed change.
  3. For those months not covered by the Texas Register index, check weekly issues of the Texas Register for the time period not covered by the index.

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Texas Attorney General

The attorney general is charged with, among other things, defending the constitution and laws of Texas and representing the state in litigation. Part of fulfilling these responsibilities involves serving as general counsel for the governor, the legislature, and the agencies of the state. As provided by statute, the attorney general issues letter opinions when requested by officers and agencies of the state.

An Opinion Committee responds to requests from state officials for official opinions regarding different issues. These opinions, while not binding, are considered very persuasive by Texas courts when interpreting state laws.

  • Formal Opinions - concern issues that will be of interest to people throughout the state. Opinions have an alpha-numeric format - the initials of the Attorney General followed by the number of the opinion in sequence. Ex. DM-49 is the forty-ninth opinion of Attorney General Dan Morales.
  • Letter Opinions* - concern non-controversial issues or those that affect a particular group, that are local in nature, do not require a meeting of the Opinion Committee. “A letter opinion has the same force and effect as a formal Attorney General Opinion, and represents the opinion of the A.G. unless and until it is modified or overruled by a subsequent letter opinion, a formal A.G. Opinion, or a decision of a court of record.” 19 Tex. Reg. 8089 (1994). Letter opinions are numbered sequentially with no reference to the specific attorney general. Ex., LO-451 is simply the 451st Letter Opinion issued. *Beginning Jan. 4, 1999, the A.G.'s office stopped issuing Letter Opinions. All opinions issued are now “formal.”
  • Open Record Decisions - the Opinion Committee also rules on questions submitted by those in charge of public records who need advice concerning an Open Records Act request. Open Record Decisions are also numbered sequentially. ORD-45 is the 45th decision issued.

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The Texas Attorney General's website provides extensive online access to attorney general opinions (1939 to present). The site includes opinions, letter opinions, and open records decisions, as well as an index to opinions, opinions by category, overruled/modified/affirmed opinions, and pending opinion requests. 

Electronic Access

As described above, many administrative law resources are available for free from government websites.

Administrative law resources are also available on subscription databases, including Lexis and Westlaw. Tarlton's Lexis and Westlaw subscriptions are limited to faculty, students, and staff. 

Nexis Uni, which is available to on-site patrons, provides access to the Texas Administrative Code and the Texas Register, as well as various other administrative materials, such as state agency decisions. Nexis Uni's version of the Texas Administrative Code includes references to code provisions and archived code versions.