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Colorado Law and Legal Research

Colorado legal resources and guides


The Executive Branch primarily makes law through its administrative agencies.  This law is called regulations, sometimes also called rules.  When an agency engages in this sort of lawmaking, it is referred to as rule-making.

Agencies can also generate law in the form of agency decisions.  Agencies can be given quasi-judicial authority to adjudicate claims arising from their regulations.  These decisions are written by administrative law judges but are subject to review by the Colorado Court of Appeals.

Acting as the state's lawyer, the Attorney General can issue opinions on legal matters brought to it.  These opinions can be on substantive matters or reviews on the formalistic legality of pending regulations.

Finally, the Governor may issue executive orders and other documents.

Colorado Regulatory Publications

An agency can issue rules and regulations only if the legislative branch has granted such authority.  The statute or enabling legislation grants the agency the authority to promulgate rules and regulations in order to implement specific legislative policy.

All regulations must be issued in accordance with the State Administrative Procedure Act (C.R.S. § 24-4-101, et seq.), which has three requirements for promulgation:

  1. Notify the public when an agency plans to promulgate new regulations or change existing ones
  2. Publish proposed regulations and solicit public comment
  3. Publish final regulations before they go into effect

The Colorado Secretary of State illustrates the rulemaking process as indicated below:

Colorado rules and regulations are issued by state agencies, but only if the legislature has granted the agency the statutory authority to do so (referred to as the enabling legislation or enabling authority). Please see the Colorado Executive Branch guide for more information on the state agencies and how rules are promulgated. 

The promulgated rules are published in the Colorado Register and the Code of Colorado Regulations

Colorado Register

In addition to the final version of the rules, the CR contains proposed regulations, meeting notices and AG regulatory opinions. The CR is organized chronologically and is published twice a month (on the 10th and 25th). Since July 2007, the official version of the Colorado Register is the online version available from the Colorado Secretary of State's website, but it is also available in the library in print.

Free E-Mail Notification Service
Free subscription email notification service to alert researchers when a new issue of the CR is published.

Code of Colorado Regulations

The Code of Colorado Regulations contains the final version of promulgated regulations as well as the history of each rule. Unlike the Colorado Register, the CCR is organized topically by agency. However, like the Colorado Register, the official version of the Code of Colorado Regulations is the online version available from the Colorado Secretary of State's website. The CCR is also available in print in the library, both the current and superseded versions of the rules.

Agency Decisions

In addition to promulgating rules, state agencies often engage in quasi-judicial functions and adjudicate matters relating to the agency's rules or actions. These decisions can aid in understanding the application of the rules. 

Colorado Office of Administrative Courts

The Office of Administrative Courts (OAC) is Colorado's administrative court system that consists of Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) that hear many of these administrative cases, including workers' compensation, human services and licensing.

About the OAC
General Information about the Colorado administrative court system.

Laws, Rules & Procedures
The rules of procedure for the different types of matters heard at the OAC.

Workers' Compensation Statutes, Rules & Guidance
The OAC provides statutes, rules and guidance..

Individual Agencies State Agencies
Decisions from other administrative cases may be available on the website of the administrative agency involved in the proceeding. Researchers can find the individual agencies from the site. 

If the agency's website does not contain decisions, researchers should contact the agency to determine if decisions are available.

Attorney General Opinions

The Attorney General serves as the state's attorney and provides legal advice to state agencies. Some of the opinions can provide an interpretation of Colorado law as it applies to an agency.

Regulatory Opinions

Colorado Register
Code of Colorado Regulations
Pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act, the Attorney General must review new rules to ensure compliance with existing law. A copy of the regulatory opinion is published with the rule in the Colorado Register and all AG opinions since 2007 are linked from the rule in the online version of the CCR.

Other Opinions

AG Opinions
Researchers can browse and search AG Opinions from as far back as 1994 from the Attorney General's website. 

Colorado Attorney General Opinions
LAW MICROFORMS 1st floor  KFC 2240 .A55f
The AG Opinions are available for request in microform dating back to 1967.

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