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Zimmerman's Research Guide


New York State - Executive Branch - Agencies and Offices

Generally the best source for materials produced by New York State administrative agencies and offices is the New York State Library, as well as the other libraries that serve as depositories for New York State government documents. The State Library posts a list of depository libraries.

Biographies of the governor, lieutenant governor, department heads, attorney general, solicitor general, board of elections and other high officials are published in The New York Red Book (a/k/a "The Red Book"), published by the New York Legal Publishing Corporation. Also check the relevant Web sites, New York news databases and any relevant Who's Who books, including Who's Who in American Politics and/or Who Was Who.

The following section discusses how to get key materials from selected New York State agencies and offices.

Attorney General's Office: The Attorney General Web site posts recent press releases, bulletins and reports, etc. Opinions of the New York Attorney General are published in Opinions of the New York State Attorney General (a/k/a Report of Attorney General or Formal/Informal Opinions of Attorney General). Opinions since 1995 are posted on the Opinions page of the AG Web site. Opinions back to 1940 are searchable on Lexis (NY;NYAG) and Westlaw (NY-AG). Subscribers to the New York State Legal Research collection on HeinOnline can access Opinions of the Attorneys-General of the State of New York, from the Formation of the State Government to February, 1872. Taken from Official Records and Public Documents. With Notes and Full Index. (Banks & Brothers 1872), as well as a database of Opinions covering 1890 to about two years back.

You can get copies of NY attorney general opinions from the New York Legislative Service; members of the New York Law Institute (212-732-8720) can get copies cheaper. Very old NY AG opinions are also published in the Attorney General's Annual Reports (1893-1858) and State Department Reports; I've gotten copies from the NY County Lawyers' Association library (212-267-6646 x205 or x206).

Board of Elections: Formal opinions (since 1974) and advisory opinions (since 1986) are posted on the Board Web site.

Comptroller's Office: Decisions of the NYS Comptroller are published in Opinions of the New York State Comptroller, starting with 1979. They are also posted on the Comptroller's Web site and on HeinOnline starting with 1988. They are searchable back to 1977 on Lexis (NY;NYCOMP) and Westlaw (NY-CPTR).

Department of Financial Services: The New York State Department of Financial Services regulates Banks, Insurance Companies, and other financial institutions. Note: Companies looking to organize as lending institutions in New York must hire a private investigator to conduct background checks on their officers. Call the DFS (212-709-1594) to get a list of PI firms that have completed these reports in the past.

Department of Health: Decisions of the Health Administrative Review Board are available on Westlaw (NYDOH-ARB) back to 1990.

New York State Homes And Community Renewal: The HCR consists of all the State's major housing and community renewal agencies, including The Affordable Housing Corporation, The Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR), Housing Finance Agency, State of New York Mortgage Agency, Housing Trust Fund Corporation and others. The Agency's publications page posts Policy Statements, Advisory Opinions, Fact Sheets, Opinion Letters, and Operational Bulletins. To research old DHCR opinions, look through the abstracts in Shapiro's DHCR Decision Finder, then get the full text from the Agency website.

See also separate entries for Rent Control and Rent Stabilization.

Department of State: The Department of State posts a Department telephone directory, information about the Department, pages about the Department's Business and Licensing Services (cemeteries, corporations and licensing) and Local Government Services (code enforcement, fire prevention), plus separate sections for the Department's offices, committees and commissions.

The Department's Committee on Open Government issues Advisory Opinions on the New York Freedom of Information Law and the Open Meetings Law. An index, with links to the full text for some opinions, is posted in the Committee on Open Government section of the Department Web site.

See also separate entry for Secretary of State Records.

Education: Administrative decisions and opinions are published in Education Department Reports for New York State: Judicial Decisions of the Commissioner of Education and Formal Opinions of Counsel. Decisions of the Commissioner are posted on the Department Web site back to July 1991 (Volume 31). Decisions back to March 1978 are searchable on Lexis (NY;NYDECD).

Employment and Labor: The Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) administers New York's labor law. PERB took over from the State Employment Relations Board (SERB) in June 2010, which replaced the State Labor Relations Board (SLRB) in 1991. Summaries of SERB and SLRB decisions from 1989 to 2002 are available on the PERB website. PERB decisions are published in the New York PERB Reporter and are available back to 1974 on the Agency's website. These decisions are searchable at Cornell's Digital Commons website.

The Department of Labor enforces New York State employment laws. The Department posts Adjudication Decisions and an online archive of old Counsel Opinion Letters; additional guidance is provided on the Frequently Asked Questions page.

Environment: New York environmental matters are regulated by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). DEC Decisions are posted free back to mid-1992. Decisions are searchable on Westlaw (NYENV-ADMIN) back to 1970 and Lexis (NY;NYENV) back to September 1973. The Department's Docket Management System contains information from cases closed on or after Jan. 2005; older cases can be obtained from the Department (518-402-9003 or OHMS@dec.ny.gov).

The Decisions of the DEC's Freshwater Appeals Board are also available on Westlaw (NYENV-ADMIN) back to 1976 and on Lexis from 1978 to 1988.

Governor's Office: The Governor's Web site posts the current Governor's Executive Orders, Proclamations, Speeches and Press releases.

Executive Orders are available from Lexis and Westlaw (NY-LEGIS or NY-LEGIS-OLD).

The Governor's Approval and Veto Messages are published in the New York Legislative Annual. They are also available on Westlaw.

Industrial Board of Appeals: The Department of Labor posts information about the Industrial Board of Appeals, including the Board's Rules of Procedure & Practice. The Board posts The Board's posts Opinions from August 2007. Older opinions may be obtained from the Board directly (518-474-4785). For questions, call the Board and ask to speak to the Board's legal counsel.

The Board has an index to their Opinions up to at least 1999; call the Board for more information.

Insurance: Insurance companies doing business in New York are regulated by the New York State Department of Financial Services. The Department posts selected General Counsel Opinions and Circular Letters. General Counsel Opinions back to 2000 are searchable on Lexis (NY;NYIGCO). The Department also posts insurance Circular Letters back to 1924.

Labor and Employment: See Employment, above.

Lobbying: New York State's lobbying disclosure laws are administered by the Joint Commission On Public Ethics. The Commission was created by the Public Integrity Reform Act of 2011 (Ch. 399 of the Laws of 2011) and continues the functions of its predecessor agencies - The State Ethics Commission, The Temporary State Commission on Lobbying, and, most recently, the Commission on Public Integrity. The Commission posts a database of Lobbyist filings as well as Advisory Opinions from both the current and predecessor agencies.

Public Employment Relations Board: See Employment, above.

Public Service Commission: The New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) regulates energy, telecommunications, and water services. PSC opinions, decisions, orders and letters are published in Public Service Commission Reports, Orders, Rules and Regulations and posted in the PSC's online Commission Files. PSC decisions are searchable on Lexis back to 1984 (NY;NYPUC) and on Westlaw back to 1953 (NY-PUR).

Tax: The New York Department of Taxation and Finance posts contact information, tax forms/instructions/publications back to 1985, a mechanism for calculating sales tax penalties and interest, and much more. The Department also posts advisory opinions, guidance, memoranda and N-notices.

Westlaw has searchable databases for the Department's Decisions, advisory opinions, private letter rulings, memoranda, and opinions of counsel (NYTX-ADMIN), or search all administrative materials together with tax cases (NYTAX). Lexis has the Department's Opinions back to 1978, as well as Tax Commission hearing determinations, memoranda and advisory opinions back to 1978, Division of Tax Appeals Determinations back to 1989 and Tax Appeals Tribunal Decisions back to June 1983 (NY;NYTAX).

Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) opinions and Tax Tribunal decisions are published in the New York Tax Reporter and New York Tax Cases. Tax Tribunal memoranda and advisory opinions are published in New York Tax Cases.

Subscribers can access New York State tax laws, regulations, cases and administrative tax materials through either Checkpoint or CCH's Intelliconnect (which includes an online version of the New York State Tax Reporter). The New York Legal Research module on HeinOnline has New York Tax Cases back to 1988.

See also the separate entry for Tax Forms.

Workers' Compensation: Workers' compensation administrative decisions are available on the website of the New York State Worker's Compensation Board. Decisions are available back to 1989 on Lexis (NY;NYWORK), or you can also search administrative decisions together with cases (WCSSD;NYWC). You can search administrative decisions back to 1985 on Westlaw (NYWC-ADMIN).

More information: For more information about New York State administrative branch materials, see Gibson's New York Legal Research Guide 3rd by William H. Manz. For information about practicing before New York administrative boards see New York State Administrative Procedure and Practice (West) by Patrick J. Borchers and David L. Markell.

See Also
New York State - Executive Branch - Administrative Code and Regulations
Attorney General Opinions
Secretary of State Records
State Regulations and Administrative Codes
Tax Forms

For comments, questions and suggestions, email the author
Copyright 2015 Andrew Zimmerman