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Circuit Riders: Updating Federal Regulations

Basic Legal Research Training

Updating Federal Regulations

Annual Revision Date
The 50 subject matter titles of the official Code of Federal Regulations is updated in print annually on a staggered quarterly basis as follows:

Titles 1 -- 16 as of January 1
Titles 17 -- 27 as of April 1
Titles 28 -- 41 as of July 1
Titles 42 -- 50 as of October 1

For example. Title 34 Education is revised every year on July 1st. The revision date of each print volume of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is printed on its cover. Many libraries do not have access to the print CFR volumes; however, the Code of Federal Regulations (Annual Edition) is available for free on the GPO's govinfo website.The annual revision date appears below the listing for each title:

Code of Federal Regulations(Annual Edition) on the GPO's govinfo website shoeing the January 1 2019 revision date for Title 6 of the CFR.


Updating Between Annual Revision Dates
A federal agency could amend or repeal a regulation or issue new regulations before a title's annual revision date (e.g., July 1 for Title 34 Education). We use two publications to check for changes to a regulation or if new regulations have been issued for a title since its annual revision date:

  • List of Sections Affected (monthly)
  • Federal Register (daily)

List of Sections Affected  (LSA)
The List of Sections Affected (LSA) is a monthly pamphlet that lists by title any section that has been affected since that title's annual revision date. Title 34 Education is revised annually on July 1st.The LSA is cumulative, so to check for changes to 34 C.F.R. § 300.17 (the definition of free appropriate public education) since July you need only check the latest LSA volume. The monthly LSA is available on the GPO's govinfo website

Federal Register
Although the LSA is cumulative, because it is published monthly, to fully update a regulation, you may need to check the daily Federal Register. The Federal Register is also available on the GPO's govinfo website. If on May 13 you checked the April LSA for any changes to 34 C.F.R. § 300.17 since the previous July annual revision date for Title 34 Education, you would need to check for CFR PARTS AFFECTED DURING MAY in the back of the May 13 Federal Register. The CFR PARTS AFFECTED section is cumulative for that month .

Any changes to a regulation listed in either the monthly List of Sections Affected (LSA) or CFR PARTS AFFECTED section of the daily Federal Register will include a page number in the current Federal Register to learn about those changes. 


Skipping the List of Sections Affected

Unofficial versions of the CFR are more up-to-date, requiring only one step for updating a federal regulation—checking the Federal Register. This allows you to skip the List of Sections Affected (LSA). For example, the GPO's unofficial e-CFR is typically current within a few days.  

 

e-CFR website with a Ma11, 2020 currency date.

 

As shown above, on May 13, 2020 the e-CFR database was current as of May 11, 2020. Therefore, all that was necessary to update 34 C.F.R. § 300.17 was to check under Title 34 in the May 13th Federal Register's CFR PARTS AFFECTED DURING MAY.

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Updating Federal Regulations Using Westlaw & Lexis & Citators

Westlaw and Lexis are also examples of very current unofficial versions of the Code of Federal Regulations that require you to check only the Federal Register to update a regulation. Westlaw and Lexis also include citators. KeyCite is the citator for WestlawShepard's is the citator for Lexis. 
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Citators use flags and signals to notify you:

  • that there is a proposed rule that might affect a regulation;
  • that a regulation has in fact been recently amended or repealed; or
  • that a court has ruled a regulation to be unconstitutional or otherwise invalid.

Citators also provide secondary sources and cases that cite a regulation

Some public libraries in South Carolina provide access to Westlaw for their patrons, while some South Carolina colleges and universities, including the University of South Carolina, provide access to Nexis Uni (by Lexis).