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In the past two years, the Louisiana Legislature has adopted several structural changes in Louisiana's Administrative Procedure Act (“LAPA”). Most notably, Louisiana adopted what is known as a central panel or unified corps of administrative law judges (“ALJs”). The central panel system, which has been adopted in nearly half of the states and has been proposed for the federal system, has a central agency or office that hires and assigns all ALJs; the central agency rotates ALJs among agencies to ensure the ALJs' independence. Louisiana created the Division of Administrative Law, effective October 1, 1996, within the Department of State Civil Service to employ and manage Louisiana's ALJs. Previously, each administrative agency hired its own administrative law judges, and the judges worked exclusively for that agency.

In this article, the author discusses each of these changes as a way of trying to understand how the Legislature is remaking Louisiana's administrative adjudications. These changes alter substantially—at least in theory—the power of Louisiana's administrative agencies. If the Legislature has changed the foundation from which its executive agencies proceed, then it may alter the way the agencies behave in fact, although it is perhaps too early to understand the full impact of these changes. Whatever the Legislature had in mind, the changes are structural, and changes in administrative function will inevitably follow.

Publication Citation

59 La. L. Rev. 431 (1999).