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Washington State Administrative Law Research

Updated Jan. 9, 2013.
Prepared by Cheryl Nyberg; updated by Tania Schriwer (2010).

Administrative law consists of rules, regulations, decisions, and guidance documents issued by executive branch agencies, boards, commissions, departments, and offices. These agencies are generally created by statute. This guide identifies print and online administrative law sources for Washington State.

For information on federal administrative law, see the Gallagher guide on U.S. Administrative Law Research.

Note: LexisNexis and Westlaw are available only to users with individual IDs and passwords. LexisNexis Academic is available to visitors to UW Libraries and to UW faculty, students, and staff. [UW Restricted]

Regulatory Process

Washington's Administrative Procedure Act (RCW 34.05), particular Part III, Rule-Making Procedures, deals with the development of rules and regulations. The Regulatory Fairness Act (RCW 19.85) deals with the "disproportionate impact" of administrative rules and regulations on small businesses.

The Rule Making process is itself governed by a set of rules (WAC 1-21).

Here is a graphic representation of the regulatory process:

Washington State regulatory process flow chart


Washington Administrative Code

Contains the current and permanent rules and regulations of state agencies. Arranged by agency. Published every two years, with a supplement in the off-year. Updated by the Washington State Register. More information


  • KFW34.5 .W37 at Reference Area (current edition)
  • KFW34.5 .W36 at Classified Stacks (1977-last year)


Current edition
State Legislature Arranged by title, chapter, and section
State Legislature Searchable Searchable; combinable with Revised Code of Washington
LexisNexis: WASH;WAADMN Searchable and browsable by table of contents
Westlaw: WA-ADC Searchable and browsable by table of contents
Prior editions
Office of the Code Reviser 2004-last year Arranged by title, chapter, and section
LexisNexis: WASH;WAADAR 2004-last year Searchable
LexisNexis Academic 2004-date Searchable; Find Sources, keyword "washington administrative code"
Westlaw: WA-ADC02** 2002-last year Searchable; ** relace 02 with last two digits of year


Washington State Register

Contains the proposed, emergency, and permanently adopted rules of state agencies, as well as governor’s executive orders and notices of public meetings. Published every two weeks. The Semi-Annual Rules Agenda, published at the end of January and July contains agency plans for current and future rule-making. The Office of the Code Reviser has indexes covering issues from 1997 to date.


  • KFW36 at Reference Area, current year
  • KFW36 at Classified Stacks, 1989-last year
  • KFW 36 at Special Collections Washington, 1978-last year. [Note: request material from Special Collections Washington at the Circulation Desk.]


Office of the Code Reviser Oct. 2005-date Browse by agency or type of filing
State Legislature 1997-date Search individual or multiple years
LexisNexis: WASH;WARGST 1996-date Searchable
LexisNexis Academic 1996-date Searchable; Find Sources > Keyword "washington state register"
Westlaw: WA-REG-NET Current Text and tracking information on proposed and final rules and regulations


Updating Regulations in Print

  1. Note the coverage date on the cover of the Washington Administrative Code volume.
  2. Consult the supplement, if any.
  3. Consult the table of WAC sections affected in the latest issue of the Washington State Register.


Agency Decisions

Many agencies are given quasi-judicial authority to hold hearings and make decisions. Consult the Washington Legal Researcher's Deskbook 3d, at 135-54 for a list of sources.
KFW75.W37 2002 at Reference Area & Reference Office

Free online sources are listed on the Gallagher guide on Free Law Online:



Directories, Guides & Statistics

Washington State Yearbook, annual
JK9230.W38 at Reference Area & Reference Office, current edition; Classified Stacks, previous editions

Washington Administrative Law Practice Manual
KFW440.W36 1991 at Reference Area & LexisNexis: Washington Administrative Law Practice Manual

Washington Legal Researcher's Deskbook 3d, especially pages 64-69 (on rules and regulations) and pages 135-54 (on administrative agency decisions).
KFW75.W37 2002 at Reference Area & Reference Office

Access Washington, Agencies and Departments links to agency websites.

Agency Rule-Making Activity
Statistics and graphs on the number of each type of filing (adopted, emergency, and proposed rules) and number of pages, 1978-date) and sections affected.


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