McGeorge Adjunct Professor Chris Micheli

California’s administrative agencies play a key role in state government and in public policy development in this state. That’s because there are over 200 state agencies, departments, boards, and commissions that have the authority to implement, interpret, and enforce state laws and regulations. These entities enjoy quasi-legislative and quasi-judicial powers.

Quasi-legislative power is the authority to adopt regulations. It’s similar to the legislative branch of government which is why it is deemed to be quasi-legislative. It’s often referred to as an agency’s rulemaking authority. Quasi-judicial power is called such because that’s the authority to interpret laws, similar to a court. These state entities also formulate and influence state policies and legislation by administering the laws that are adopted by the Legislature and the Executive Orders that are promulgated by the Governor of the state.

Administrative agencies also interpret statutes, they enforce laws, and again, they adopt regulations to interpret and administer those statutes. They also play an important role in advising the Governor and his or her staff on pending legislation as well as the state budget and related public policy issues that are within their jurisdiction. The recommendations of these state administrative agencies, just like their federal counterparts, can often carry great weight with the Governor and his or her staff when making decisions on bills and different issues.

Many state administrative agencies also enjoy enforcement authority over those that they regulate. By having that enforcement authority, these state entities can enforce the statutes and regulations governing the conduct of those that they regulate. This means also that those state agencies can investigate a company or an individual, they can cite or fine them for a violation of the law or of a regulation, and in some instances those state entities can suspend the license to conduct business in the state.

Whether conducting these investigations or enforcing or interpreting the laws, state administrative agencies are indeed a crucial player in state government and they wield enormous power over a myriad of different entities in and out of state government. As a result, those working in and around the state capitol must be aware of the role that they play in state government.

You can find a full transcript of today’s podcast here.