What is the difference between MD Statutory Code and Code of MD Regulations (COMAR)? I am under the impression that COMAR spells out the details behind the statutes, is that a fair statement?
I don’t know specifically about Maryland, but the federal government, most (if not all) states, and many municipalities have a similar system, with statutes and regulations.
Statutes are laws passed by the legislature, and the statutory code is the compilation of the legislature-passed laws. For the federal system, this would be the laws passed by Congress, with their compilation called the United States Code.
Many times. particular statutes provide that details of how a law is implemented will be set by the government agency that is responsible for that area of the law. In other instances, agencies just want to set out their policies and procedures on how they are organized and operate.
Most jurisdictions have a statute called the Administrative Procedures Act, which controls how agencies are allowed to establish and enforce regulations that will govern their operations and implementation of statutes. Typically, these require that proposed regulations be published in a particular publication, with a period for public comment, and after they are final, they are compiled into a regulatory code.
In the federal system, agencies are required to publish proposed and final regulations in a daily journal called the Federal Register. After the regulations are final, they are compiled in a publication called the Code of Federal Regulations.
So, in essence, you are probably correct in that the Maryland Statutory Code is the code of laws passed by the legislature, and the Code of Maryland Regulations is the code of regulations adopted by the agency to implement the statutory laws.
I am also not familiar with MD law, but you are generally correct. For most things, the legislature simply cannot outline every precise detail in a statute.
For example, today I was doing work for a client regarding a driver’s license revocation due to being charged with a DUI. A West Virginia statute provides that if a person is charged with DUI and his license is revoked, he has a right to a hearing in front of an administrative officer to determine by a preponderance of the evidence whether he committed the DUI. Simple enough, right?
But how does this hearing work? How much time does a person have to contest it? By what manner is the paperwork filed? Who gets copies, etc. These questions are answered by rules promulgated by the DMV which become part of the Code of State Regulations (CSR).
In some states, these rules are just agency interpretations of the law and may be challenged in court if they are inconsistent with a statute. In other states (like mine) these regulations are wholesale enacted by the Legislature each year and have the same force of any other law.