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State Administrative Law

Litigation

State legislatures have passed laws setting up various state administrative agencies. Some examples of state administrative agencies include public utilities commissions, worker’s compensation bureaus, motor vehicle bureaus, and natural resources departments. State agencies exercise powers delegated to them by the state legislature.

Rulemaking Authority of State Agencies

By law, state agencies have the power to adopt rules and regulations. For example, a pharmacy board can issue licenses to pharmacists and adopt rules regulating pharmacy practice. State administrative procedure acts specify the procedure to be followed in adopting agency rules and regulations. Generally, the agency writes a proposed rule and the public is given notice of the proposed rule. After a period for review of the rule, the agency holds a public hearing to take testimony about the proposed rule. The agency then adopts a final rule, which has the force of law.

Adjudicatory Authority of State Agencies

State agencies also have authority to hold administrative hearings and issue decisions or orders that have the force of law. The administrative procedure act sets out the procedures to be used in holding administrative hearings. Although administrative hearings may be considered less formal than court proceedings, a party to an administrative hearing generally is entitled to the due process protections of notice and an opportunity to present the party’s position at a hearing.

For example, the State Medical Board of Ohio charged a doctor with selling prescriptions for controlled substances. The Board conducted a hearing, and the doctor was found guilty of the charges. His license to practice medicine was indefinitely suspended. The doctor appealed the decision, and the decision was reversed by the trial court. The trial court found that the procedure followed by the Board did not provide a fair hearing and due process to the doctor. The hearing officer was not impartial because he was a member of the medical board and he appeared before the board as an advocate to convince the other members of the validity of his findings. Also, the physician was not given the opportunity to be present at the board hearing in person or by a representative.

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