Regulations of executive branch agencies are issued by authority of statutes. Like legislation and the Constitution, regulations are a source of primary law in Washington State.
Regulations first appear in:
Washington State Register
Olympia, (bi-weekly), 1977-
The Register (WSR) publishes proposed, emergency, and final regulations and repeals, along with Governor's Executive Orders and Attorney General Opinions.
Register section numbers are preceded by the year, followed by the issue number, and end with the item number. For example, in WSR 90-04-020, 90 is the year 1990, the issue number is 04, and the item number is 020.
Each issue has a cumulative index and a table of Washington Administrative Code (WAC) sections that are affected by changes published since the last edition of the WAC. To use the Register as an updating device, locate the table in back of the most recently published issue, find the WAC number and note the Register number it refers to. Go to the issue of the Register for the rule, repeal, or amendment.
Notice that the index and table are cumulative for a given year, through the second issue of the following year. Thus issue 91-02 would contain a complete index and table for all 1990 Registers. Each year's regulations are compiled into soft cover supplements to the WAC.
Washington Administrative Code
Olympia, 12 vols., supps.
The Washington Administrative Code codifies the regulations and arranges them by subject or agency. Beginning with the 1995 edition, a new edition of the WAC is issued every two years with a supplement issued for the year between new editions.
The history of administrative law is more elusive than legislative history. Searches may have only two sources to consider: the Register and the issuing office. In the history note following the text of a WAC section, there is a reference to the source of the regulation, to an Order no., and/or to a Register (WSR) number. The earlier Register item may provide a prefatory paragraph with a brief description of the need for the change, but usually not. The second source, the issuing office, is suggested because the names and titles of state officials are provided in the Register, and these persons may be helpful in providing history from their office files.
WAC and Washington Register are available online at: http://www.leg.wa.gov/LawsAndAgencyRules/