Finding Maryland Regulations without a Citation
Regulations created by Maryland state agencies are published in the Code of Maryland Regulations ("COMAR"). If you don't have a citation to a specific regulation and you are researching an area of Maryland law that is not covered on the Peoples Law Library, you will need to search COMAR using key words related to your problem. There are two ways to do this: (1) search the print edition of COMAR at a public library using the print indexes or the COMAR Deskbook; or (2) search the free COMAR database on the Division of State Documents home page at http://www.dsd.state.md.us/COMAR/searchall.aspx. It is a good idea to use the print version of COMAR if you can, because that is the "official" version - the version relied upon by Maryland's state courts.
Searching COMAR in Print
Searching and updating the print edition of COMAR can be complex. You will probably want to ask a librarian for help, but here is some basic information about how it works.
COMAR is divided into 35 numbered titles. Most state agencies have their own title. For example, regulations created by the Department of Health are published in Title 10 of COMAR. However, several smaller independent agencies share a single title, Title 14. Before you begin searching for state regulations, it may be helpful to know which agency regulates the area of law you are researching If you know which agency regulates the law you are interested in, you can limit your search to the COMAR title containing that agency's regulations using the title’s subject index. If you don't know which agency regulates your area of law, you may be able to find out by searching the Maryland Manual Online. The Maryland Manual describes each state agency's functions and lists the agency’s major officials.
If you can't figure out which state agency regulates the area of law you are researching, or if there is more than one agency involved, you can search a subject index to the entire COMAR. The Division of State Documents, which publishes COMAR, doesn't publish an overall subject index. However, there is a separate, commercially published index called Michie's Index to the Code of Maryland Regulations. There is also another separate, commercial publication called the COMAR Deskbook that includes a very basic subject index and several other finding aids. Most libraries that subscribe to COMAR will also subscribe to one or both of these commercial publications.
Once you have found print regulations that relate to your problem, you will still need to update them. This is because each title of COMAR is updated only once a year. To update COMAR regulations in print, you must use a separate print publication called the Maryland Register. The Maryland Register is published every two weeks and contains the text of proposed new regulations, as well as notices saying when a proposed regulation will become final. A table appearing near the beginning of each issue of the Maryland Register lists regulations adopted, repealed, and amended in each COMAR title since that title's last annual update.
Searching COMAR on the Web
The easiest way to explain searching COMAR on the web is with an example. Suppose you wanted to know how to legally home school your child in Maryland, you could go to the COMAR page, click the “Search on a word or phrase, or enter the codification number” link, type the words home school in the search box, and click “Search.”
Another way to search COMAR online is to browse its table of contents. You should use this method if you are not familiar with the exact words used in the regulation. Using the home schooling example again, you might browse like this:
- From the COMAR page, click the “Access through Table of Contents Structure” link.
- Scan the list of all titles in COMAR. You would probably conclude that Title 13A, “State Board of Education” is the most relevant to your problem.
- Click the link to the most relevant title.
- Scan the list of subtitles within that title.
- Click the most relevant subtitle to browse the regulations within that subtitle.
COMAR online is relatively up-to-date, but sometimes it takes a few weeks for the Division of State Documents to post new regulations to the database. For this reason, you need to update the regulations you find in COMAR by browsing the last couple of issues of the Maryland Register.