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LRAC Legal Research Class Site

Arizona Agencies

An Arizona agency is a part of the executive branch of government (of the three branches of government) that has been created by the Arizona legislature to carry out its legislative will. Legislatures (including all states and the U.S. Congress) create agencies because legislators don't want to try to become experts in everything or to create laws about issues they know nothing about. Therefore, legislatures often enact statutes that create a broad framework for an area of law and then create an agency with the power to make regulations to fulfill the purpose of the statutes and fill in the details, enforce the statutes and regulations, and adjudicate disputes. 

The Arizona legislature has created a number of agencies and delegated specific powers to them.

Arizona Board of Optometry Example

The Arizona legislature was interested in NOT having a bunch of folks claiming to know something about eyesight problems/making glasses/optometry running around the state blinding people with quackery. Therefore, it enacted a number of general statutes (go to school, get a license, and don't blind people!) to regulate the practice of optometry (Title 32 - Chapter 16 - Optometry). However, the legislators didn’t know ANYTHING specific about optometry and didn't want to get bogged down in the details of the requirements to be an optometrist, standards of care, licensing fees, disciplinary matters, etc., etc. etc. 

So, the legislature created the Arizona Board of Optometry to protect the public's eyesight by regulating optometrists in Arizona. Like most agencies, it has a website which is useful for legal research with links to information and the relevant statutes and regulations.

The Board was created in its current form in 1982 by an Arizona statutory organic/enabling act which is codified in Title 32 beginning at A.R.S. § 32-1701.

A.R.S. § 32-1702 created the board.

A.R.S. § 32-1704 vests the Board with powers and duties, such as the power to adopt regulations, license optometrists, etc.

Arizona Regulations

Regulations (aka rules or administrative code sections) are laws enacted by agencies. Just like statutes, they have the force of law with criminal and civil penalties for violations. Why why why do unelected agency folk have the power to send people to jail and fine them? Because legislatures have the constitutional power to create laws to send people to jail and fine them, and they delegate this authority to agencies. (NoteIf a legislature doesn't like what an agency does, it can pass a statute to supersede the regulation or to take away the agencies power to regulate in that area.)

Once the Arizona Board of Optometry was created and given the power to enact regulations, it enacted regulations in accordance with the authority granted by Arizona statutes.  

Arizona Board of Optometry Example

Arizona legislators got tired of constituents complaining that they had to buy overpriced contact lenses directly from their optometrists. The optometrists wanted to make money selling their patients contact lenses, so they refused to give them a copy of their prescriptions to shop elsewhere. So, the Arizona legislature passed a statute to force optometrists to give patients their prescriptions at no cost.

To find the Arizona law on this topic, you want to search BOTH the Arizona Revised Statutes and the Arizona Administrative Code.

Arizona Revised Statutes - A.R.S. § 32-1771

A.R.S. § 32-1771 requires that the “prescribing optometrist shall provide a prescription for contact lenses at no cost to the patient.”

The legislature didn't know anything specific about optometrists’ prescriptions, so they left it to the Board to flesh out the details, if needed.

Arizona Administrative Code - A.A.C. R4-21-306

The Board, being comprised of optometrists, knew how weaselly optometrists are and must have thought that their fellow professionals would give patients prescriptions with inadequate information to allow them to be filled anywhere else. Therefore, A.A.C. section specifies what information the prescription must include.

Arizona Adminstrative Code

The Arizona Administrative Code contains the current Arizona regulations which are codified by topic in the Code. The individual A.A.C. sections are called rules, regulations, or administrative code sections.

The Code is organized by title and chapter exactly like the Arizona Revised Statutes. It is comprised of twenty-one titles that do not correspond to the Arizona Revised Statutes titles.


The Arizona Administrative Code is available on Westlaw, Lexis and the Arizona Secretary of State’s website. The version depicted below is from the Secretary of State’s website.

Annotated v. Unannotated Codes

If you are using a commercial online service such as Westlaw or Lexis, the Arizona Administrative Code is annotated. The Code has the usual editorial enhancements like notes of decisions (cases that interpret the regulations), secondary sources that explain the regulations, and historical information.

The Arizona Secretary of State version of the Arizona Administrative Code is unannotated and has the text of the regulations with no editorial enhancements.


Remember that NO Arizona statutory research is COMPLETE without also searching for any applicable Arizona regulations, because there are often statutes AND regulations on the same topic (like for the contact lenses example).

Finding Arizona Regulations

Yayayayayay there is NOT MUCH new to learn about searching for Arizona regulations because statutes and regulations are so similar.

How are they similar?

  1. Arizona regulations and statutes look alike (and are sometimes mistaken for each other)
  2. The Arizona Administrative Code is organized just like the Arizona Revised Statutes into titles, chapters, etc.
  3. On Westlaw or Lexis, the Arizona regulations have the same editorial enhancements as statutes – notes of decision, secondary sources, historical annotations, KeyCite/Shepard’s symbols, etc.
  4. Arizona regulations and statutes are searchable in the exact same way

Westlaw - Arizona Regulations

  1. Table of contents
  2. Keyword searching (natural language or terms and connectors)

      Note: There is no subject index for the Arizona regulations

Lexis - Arizona Administrative Code

  1. Table of contents
  2. Keyword searching (natural language or terms and connectors)

      Note: There is no subject index for the Arizona regulations


Arizona Administrative Register

The Arizona Administrative Register is a record of the rulemaking activities of Arizona boards and agencies. The Register contains proposed regulations, final regulations, agency notices, and executive orders.

There are two main purposes of this Register (or any administrative register).

  1. To inform the public of proposed regulations and amendments to existing regulations
  2. To inform the public of final regulations

Final regulations (aka rules or administrative code sections) are codified into the Arizona Administrative Code.

The Register is published once a week and is available for free on the Arizona Secretary of State website.  It is also available through Westlaw and Lexis.

Updating Arizona Regulations

Updating a regulation with KeyCite or Shepard's is just like updating a statute.

Just like statutes, there are three things you want to know when you are updating a regulation (Arizona or federal).

  1. Do you have the most current version of the regulation?
  2. Has the regulation received any negative treatment from case law?
  3. Are there any pending proposed regulations that might soon amend your regulation?

Most Current Version

A regulation with a recently adopted amendment that changes the text of the regulation will have a red flag/symbol.

Negative Treatment from Case Law

A regulation with negative case law treatment will have a yellow or red flag/symbol.   

Proposed Amendments to Regulations

A regulation with a pending proposed amendment will have a yellow flag/symbol.