Go to the U of M home page.

Researching Federal & Minnesota Regulations

Last Update 6/3/13, Links verified 11/11.  Direct feedback on this page to lawlib@umn.edu.

Federal Regulations - Introduction


Administrative regulations (also called rules) are promulgated by executive agencies. Their purpose is to fill in the detailed procedures needed to implement and enforce statutes. Congress grants executive agencies authority to promulgate regulations through statutes. When Congress passes a new environmental statute, for example, it will usually include one or more provisions mandating the Environmental Protection Agency to create a set of detailed regulations that will be used by the agency to make the statute work. To get a complete picture of how a statute will govern, therefore, it is necessary to find relevant regulations.

An executive agency must follow a prescribed procedure when creating or changing regulations. First, subject experts from the agency draft regulations. These are published as proposed rules. Next, the public is invited to submit written comments or attend hearings on the regulations. The agency takes these comments into account and redrafts the proposed regulations which when adopted become final rules (they may be called interim or temporary rules if they are not permanent). During this rulemaking process, proposed and adopted regulations, as well as information on the proceedings, are published in two major sources: the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations.

Federal Register


This source contains notices about agency rulemaking (e.g., announcements of hearings and requests for comments), proposed rules, and adopted rules. It has been published every Federal working day since 1936. Volumes from 1936-1981 are shelved in the on the second floor (U.S. DOCS GS4.107). Volumes from 1936-date are available in storage on microfiche (AE2.106). Issues for the current year are also available on the plaza level of the library (PRIMARY KF70.A2). Each issue of the Federal Register contains a detailed table of contents, arranged by agency name, and two lists of existing regulations which are affected by the rulemaking process. Adopted rules, proposed rules, and notices are published in separate sections of each issue. Material within these sections is arranged according to the classification used in the Code of Federal Regulations. Monthly cumulative indexes (which become annual indexes at the end of the year) provide access to the Federal Register under broad subject or agency name. A commercial index, the CIS Federal Register Index, KF70.A21 Index provides detailed indexing, lists of existing regulations affected, and lists of authorizing legislation for the period 1984-1998.

Federal Register Online, (coverage and access varies, see notes below)


Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)


Temporary and interim rules can only be found in the Federal Register. Most regulations, however, are adopted as permanent regulations. After being initially published in the Federal Register, these final rules end up in the Code of Federal Regulations. The Code of Federal Regulations has been published annually since 1938. Code of Federal Regulations volumes are not all revised at the same time. Always check the date on the front cover of any volume to see how current the information in that volume is. Any additions or changes to the information in the volume after that date will be available in the Federal Register. Older Code of Federal Regulation volumes are shelved on the second floor of the library (U.S. DOCS GS4.108 [1938-1984] and AE2.106/3 [1985-date]).Volumes 1938-date are also available on microfiche in room 140 (AE2.106/3). Current volumes are shelved on the plaza (PRIMARY KF70.A3).

Regulations are arranged in the Code of Federal Regulations under fifty subject categories, called titles. Each title is subdivided into chapters, with each chapter representing an executive agency responsible for promulgating the regulations. Each chapter is subdivided into parts, which represent a specific topic. Parts are subdivided into sections. Citations to the Code of Federal Regulations usually include only the title number and the section number (e.g., 49 C.F.R. § 511.11 translates into section 511.11 of title 49).

Each volume of the Code of Federal Regulations contains a brief table of contents at the beginning as well as several finding aids at the end. These include a list of sections affected, which indicates the changes made to specific sections in previous years, a complete list of titles and chapters, and an alphabetical agency list. An annual index is issued at the beginning of each year, which provides references to information under agency name and broad subject area. This index also provides a list of authorizing statutes, a list of titles, chapters, and parts, and an alphabetical list of agencies. A commercial publication, West's Code of Federal Regulations Index, shelved on the plaza level of the library (PRIMARY KF70.A34 I53x) provides in-depth current indexing of the CFR.

Code of Federal Regulations Online, (coverage and access varies, see notes below)

Finding Federal Regulations


  1. Finding an existing regulation when you only know its subject:


    1. Start with the indexes to the Code of Federal Regulations. Search under the subject. Print indexes available include:
      • CFR Index & Finding Aids (Law LIbrary Reference Office AE2.106/ 3-2:)
      • CFR Index (USCS edition) (Law Library Primary KF62 1972 .L38
      • West's Code of Federal Regulations, General Index (Law Library Primary KF70 .A37 W47x).
    2. If this does not work, look at the list of titles listed at the beginning of any volume of the Code of Federal Regulations, which may give you a clue to the title to search. Each title has a detailed outline at the beginnng. The terminology used in the title might also be searched in the indexes above.


  2. Finding an existing regulation when you know the statute which authorized it:


    1. Use the indexes to the Code of Federal Regulations. These have tables of authorizing statutes. Look up the statute to find references to the regulations.


    2. Alternatively, use the United States Code Service (PRIMARY KF62 1972.L38) or United States Code Annotated (PRIMARY KF 62 1927.W45). Look up the code citation. The notes which follow may give a reference to the Code of Federal Regulations related to that statute. Otherwise, check the CFR Index and Finding Aids in the Reference Office (Law Library Reference Office US-AE2.106/3-2).


  3. Finding proposed or newly adopted regulations:


    1. Regulations.gov: On this government web site users can find, review and submit comments on Federal government documents that are open for comment and published in the Federal Register, e.g. proposed regulations. Search by keyword or phrase or browse by agency name.


    2. Justia: Regulation Tracker: Similar to the Regulations.gov web site above. Notable additional features include: retrospective coverage back to 2005 and an RSS feed subscription.


    3. OpenRegs.com:An alternative to the federal government's Regulations.gov regulatory dockets database. Proposed & newly promulgated regulations may be browsed by individual agencies and topics. Users can also subscribe to notification services by agency or topic. The site offers discussion forums for each agency and each regulation, and user-submitted related links.


    4. If you know only the subject, search the indexes to the Federal Register.


    5. If you know an existing regulation which may have changed or be in the process of changing, check the citation to the regulation in the monthly or annual "List of Sections Affected" volumes (PRIMARY KF70.A34C6) which are more current than the code volume containing the regulation. To update the "List of Sections Affected," search the "CFR Part Affected" table at the back of the last issue of the later months of the Federal Register and any subsequent daily issues.

Minnesota Rules - Introduction


Minnesota regulations (called rules) fulfill the same function as federal regulations: implementing and enforcing state statutes. They are promulgated in much the same way as federal regulations. Authority for state agencies to create rules is granted through specific Minnesota laws. Agencies announce their proposed rules, notices of hearings, and final rules in the State Register. Adopted final rules are codified in the Minnesota Rules.


The Minnesota State Register has been published weekly since 1976. Each issue contains an "Amendments and Additions" list which indicates where each agency's rule actions have been included in the State Register. Listings are arranged by the affected rule number under the agency name. These lists cumulate quarterly, semi-annually, and annually. An annual subject matter index appears in August each year.

The State Register can be accessed online at https://www.revisor.mn.gov/state_register/, coverage is from volume 1 (July 13, 1976) to current.  The State Register is also available on both LexisNexis Academic and LexisNexis (coverage starts with vol. 24 #1, 7/6/1999).

Minnesota Rules


The Minnesota Rules are published every even numbered year. Supplements are issued during odd numbered years. Minnesota Rules are arranged by a numerical scheme which assigns a separate set of four digit numbers to each agency. In the chapter for each agency, rules are arranged in topical order. This work contains a subject index, which includes listings by agency name, and a table of authorizing statutes.

The current edition of the Minnesota Rules can be accessed online at https://www.revisor.mn.gov/rules/. The Revisor's web site also has an archive of prior rules back to 1982. In addition, the Minnesota Rules is available on LexisNexis Academic, LexisNexis and also Westlaw.


  1. Finding an existing rule when you only know its subject.
    1. Start with the index to the Minnesota Rules. Search under the subject.
    2. If this does not work, look at the list of rules by name of agency at the beginning of any Minnesota Rules volume. If you find a relevant agency, go to the volume of Minnesota Rules which contains the chapter of the rules for that agency. Scan the contents listed at the beginning of the chapter for rules that match your subject interest.
  2. Finding an existing rule when you know the statute which authorized it.
    1. Start with the "Statutory Authority for Administrative Rules" table in the Minnesota Rules. Look up the statute citation. You will be given a list of rules which have been promulgated pursuant to that statute.
    2. Alternatively, use the same table in the Minnesota Statutes (PRIMARY KFM5429.M56).
  3. Finding proposed or newly adopted rules.
    1. If you only know the subject, search under the name of the most likely agency in the "Amendments and Additions" list found at the beginning of the State Register. If possible, start with the cumulations which appear in issue nos. 26, 39, and 52 and update these in the weekly issues as necessary.
    2. If you know a rule number and wish to update it, check the rule number in the "Amendments and Additions" list found at the beginning of the State Register. If possible, start with the cumulations which appear in issue nos. 26, 39, and 52 and update these in the weekly issues as necessary.

Minnesota Rules Status (Beta)


In June 2013, the Office of the Revisor of Statutes released a beta version database: Minnesota Rules Status.  Description from web site:

This beta version of a public administrative rule status system will allow you to follow many of the actions taken by state departments and agencies when they adopt administrative rules. It also provides access to historical rule information, documents and notices for rules adopted since 1980. This system will give you access to the entire State Register in searchable electronic form, over 1,080 agency SONARs (statement of need and reasonableness), and over 210 documents from the Office of Administrative Hearings.