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Find federal and state laws and regulations.
Federal laws generally apply to people living in the United States and its territories.
Congress creates and passes bills. The President then signs those bills into law. Federal courts may review these laws and strike them down if they think they do not agree with the U.S. Constitution.
The United States Code contains the general and permanent laws of the United States. It does not include regulations issued by executive branch agencies, decisions of federal courts, treaties, or laws enacted by state or local governments.
New laws are assigned a public law number and included in the next edition of the United States Statutes at Large. You can also find new laws enacted by the current Congress before they are part of the United States Statutes at Large.
Regulations are issued by federal agencies, boards, or commissions. They explain how the agency intends to carry out a law.
Federal regulations are created through a process known as rulemaking.
By law, federal agencies must consult the public when creating, modifying, or deleting rules in the Code of Federal Regulations. This is an annual publication that lists the official and complete text of federal agency regulations.
Once an agency decides that a regulation needs to be added, changed, or deleted, it typically publishes a proposed rule in the Federal Register to ask the public for comments.
After the agency considers public feedback and makes changes where appropriate, it then publishes a final rule in the Federal Register with a specific date for when the rule will become effective and enforceable.
When the agency issues a final rule for comment, it must describe and respond to the public comments it received.
State laws generally apply just to people living in that state.
State legislatures create and pass bills and the governor signs them into law. State courts may review these laws and remove them if they think they do not agree with the state's constitution.
The Law Library of Congress has a guide for each state that can help you find laws and regulations.
Page Last Reviewed or Updated: May 16, 2013