Marsha N. Cohen


California enacted an extensive regulatory review plan in 1979 which established the criteria of necessity, authority, clarity, consistency, and reference for all existing and future regulations. It created the office of Administrative Law (OAL) in the executive branch to enforce compliance with the new standards, and adopted procedural modifications to the state's rulemaking scheme. In this article, Professor Cohen analyzes the California plan and its application during the first two years of the OAL's existence. She concludes that the procedural reforms are generally sound, although in some aspects impose excessive controls on agencies. In contrast, she finds troubling the plan's controls on the substantive aspects of regulatory adoptions. The ill-defined necessity criterion encourages OAL to substitute its judgment for that of the agencies' in direct contravention of legislative mandate, and inadequately recognizes the contribution of agency expertise to sound regulatory policymaking.

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