Monday, June 3, 2013

Researching the History of a Massachusetts Regulation

Although legislative histories are the predominant research questions that we receive at the State Library, once in a while we have patrons who want to know how to conduct research on a regulation found within the Code of Massachusetts Regulations (CMR). Researching the history of a regulation can often be a tedious task, but luckily it involves only two resources: the Massachusetts Register, and the cumulative tables to the Massachusetts Register.

The first step is to look at the cumulative tables (or indexes) that were published in the final Massachusetts Registers during each calendar year. The year-end cumulative tables start from 1976-1977 up to the most current, and document all of the CMR filings (or updates) and emergency regulations published in the registers during a specific year. The library maintains a binder of the tables from 1978-current, which is shelved with the CMRs in the reading room. If you do not know when a specific regulation was added, or when an amendment took effect, it is good practice to start with the earliest cumulative table and work forward through each year until you can begin tracing the history.

A page from the 2012 year-end cumulative table. Highlighted are all of the amendments to 760 CMR during the 2012 calendar year.
You will notice on the left-hand side of each page of the table the “digit title numbers” (or “agency numbers”) are listed in bold, and underneath each of these are the regulation chapter numbers. On the right-hand side there are two columns: the register issue number in which the amendment was published, and the date on which the amendment took effect. When you are able to begin tracing the history of the regulation and want to start looking at the specific filings, it’s important to take note of the register issue number so that you can later ask one of our reference librarians to retrieve the issue for you.

Like legislative histories, we recommend that all patrons wanting to conduct this type of research should visit the library in person. If you have any questions or request more information, please contact the State Library’s reference desk at 617-727-2590.

Kaitlin Connolly
Reference Department