The Louisiana Administrative Procedure Act (“Act”) is found in Title 1, Chapter 13 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes. The Act provides that every agency engages in rule-making must comply with the following requirements:
- File with the Department of the State Register a description of its organization, stating the general track and mode of its operations and the manner how the public can obtain information or make submissions or requests;
- Adopt rules of practice setting forth the nature and requirements of all available formal and informal procedures;
- Make available for public inspection all rules, preambles, responses to comments, and submissions and all other written statements prepared, accepted, or used by the agency in the discharge of its functions and also all final orders; and
- Publish all rules, preambles, responses to comments, submissions, statements, and interpretations on a regular basis.
According to La. R.S. 49:953, every agency must provide notice of the intended action and copy of the proposed rule at least 90 days’ notice before taking action. The notice must be published at least once in the Louisiana Register. The Act also provides that the agency must give the parties reasonable opportunity to submit data, views, comments, or arguments, orally or in writing. Opportunity for oral presentation or argument must also be granted in case of substantive rules.
The agency must make available to all interested persons copies of any proposed rule intended from the time the notice of its intended action is published in the Louisiana Register. Any agency hearing as per the provisions of the Act must not be held thirty-five days before and forty days later, after the publication of the Louisiana Register in which the notice of the intended action appears.
Further La. R.S. 49:955 provides that all parties to adjudication must be given an opportunity for hearing after a reasonable notice. The notice must include:
- Details of the time, place, and nature of the hearing;
- Reference to the legal authority and jurisdiction under which the hearing is to be held;
- Details of specific sections of the statutes and rules involved;
- A brief statement of the matters asserted.
The agency must also provide the parties with an opportunity to respond and present evidence on all issues of fact and argument on all issues of law and policy involved. The agency must conduct such cross-examination as is required for a full and true disclosure of the facts. Informal disposition of adjudication also can be made either by stipulation, agreed settlement, consent order, or default.
According to La. R.S. 49:958, an agency’s final decision or order adverse to a party in adjudication proceeding must be in writing or stated in the record. The final decision must include findings of fact and conclusions of law. Parties and his/her attorney must be notified about the decision or order either personally or by mail. If the party requests, a copy of the decision can also be mailed to them.
La. R.S. 49:959 provides that within ten days of its date of entry, an agency can rehear, reopen or reconsider any decision or order in a case of adjudication if:
- the decision or order is clearly contrary to the law and the evidence;
- the party discovered a new evidence on important issues which s/he had no access during the hearing;
- finding that issues not previously considered have to to be examined in order properly to dispose of the matter; or
- some other good ground for further consideration of the issues considering the public interest.
La. R.S. 49:961 provides that if the licensee has made timely and sufficient application for renewal, then the license will not expire until the agency has made its final determination. Before suspending, revoking or withdrawing a license, the agency must give reasonable notice to the licensee of facts or conduct which justifies the intended action. Summary suspension of license by an agency is permitted when the agency finds that public health, safety and welfare requires an emergency action to be taken.
According to La. R.S. 49:963, any party can seek declaratory judgment as to the validity or applicability of a rule in the district court of the parish in which the agency is located. The court can declare the rule invalid or inapplicable if it finds that it violates constitutional provisions or exceeds the statutory authority of the agency. The agency can also declare the rule void if the rule was adopted without substantial compliance with required rulemaking procedures.
Any person who is aggrieved by the final decision or order of adjudication can seek judicial review by filing a petition in the district court of the parish in which the agency is located. A person is entitled to judicial review regardless of the matter that whether or not s/he has applied to the agency for rehearing. No agency or any other person acting on behalf of the agency will be entitled to judicial review under the Act. Further La. R.S. 49:965 provides that any aggrieved party can obtain review of any final judgment of the district court by filing an appeal in the appropriate circuit court of appeal.