(a) The administrator is authorized and empowered to promulgate rules and regulations and official interpretations (collectively "regulations") as may be necessary or appropriate for the execution and enforcement of this chapter. The administrator or, if authorized by regulation, the administrator's designee, or both, may also issue written interpretations of consumer finance statutes and regulations and this chapter.
(b)(1) Prior to the adoption, amendment, or repeal of any regulation, the administrator shall give at least 35 days' notice of its intended action by filing notice of intended action with the Legislative Reference Service for publication in the Alabama Administrative Monthly. The date of publication in the Alabama Administrative Monthly shall constitute the date of notice. The notice shall include a statement of either the terms or substance of the intended action or a description of the subject and issues involved, shall specify a notice period ending not less than 35 days or more than 90 days from the date of the notice, during which period interested persons may present their views thereon, and shall specify the place where, and the manner in which interested persons may present their views thereon.
(2) All interested persons shall have a reasonable opportunity to submit data, views, or arguments, orally or in writing. The administrator shall consider all written and oral submissions respecting the proposed regulation. Upon adoption of a regulation, the administrator, if conflicting views are submitted on the proposed regulation and if requested in writing to do so by an interested person prior to adoption, shall issue a concise statement of the principal reasons for and against its adoption, incorporating therein its reasons for overruling any considerations urged against its adoption.
(3) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter to the contrary, if the administrator finds that an immediate danger to the public health, safety, or welfare requires adoption of a regulation upon fewer than 35 days' notice or that action is required by or to comply with a federal statute or regulation which requires adoption of a regulation upon fewer than 35 days' notice and states in writing its reasons for that finding, it may proceed without prior notice or hearing or upon any abbreviated notice and hearing that it finds practicable, to adopt an emergency regulation. The regulation shall become effective immediately, unless otherwise stated therein. The regulation may be effective for a period of not longer than 120 days unless within such time the administrator complies with the procedures set forth in subsections (b)(1) and (b)(2). The adoption of the same or a substantially similar regulation following the procedures set forth in subsections (b)(1) and (b)(2) at any time is not limited by the adoption of a regulation following the emergency regulation procedure set forth in this subsection.
(4) A person who has exhausted all administrative remedies available within the State Banking Department, other than rehearing, and who is aggrieved by a final decision of the administrator with respect to a regulation, is entitled to judicial review under this chapter. All proceedings for review shall be instituted by filing of notice of appeal or review and a cost bond with the administrator to cover the reasonable costs of preparing the transcript of the proceeding under review, unless waived by the administrator or the court on a showing of substantial hardship. The notice of appeal and cost bond must be filed within 42 days after the date the administrator issued its final regulation. The appeal shall be filed in the Circuit Court of Montgomery County. The regulation will be in effect pending the outcome of any appeal unless the administrator stays the effective date of the regulation.
(c) As to transactions entered into after May 20, 1996, a creditor shall have no liability under this chapter for any act or practice done or omitted in conformity with any (i) regulation of the administrator, or (ii) any rule, regulation, interpretation, or approval of any applicable Alabama or federal agency or any opinion of the Attorney General, notwithstanding that after such act or omission has occurred, the regulation, rule, interpretation, opinion, or approval is amended, rescinded, or determined by judicial or other authority to be invalid for any reason; provided, however, that any interpretation or opinion issued after May 20, 1996, shall not have any effect on any litigation pending on May 20, 1996, nor shall any interpretation or opinion issued after May 20, 1996, have any effect on litigation if issued subsequent to filing of the litigation. The enactment of Act 96-576 shall have no effect on interpretations or opinions issued prior to May 20, 1996.
(d) A creditor, acting in conformity with a written interpretation or approval by the administrator or the administrator's designee, or by the official in charge of any applicable Alabama agency or department, or by an official of any federal agency or department, shall be presumed to have acted in accordance with applicable law, notwithstanding that after such act has occurred, the interpretation or approval is amended, rescinded, or determined by judicial or other authority to be incorrect or invalid for any reason.
(e) Interpretations, opinions, and approvals shall protect, to the extent provided in subsections (c) and (d), as applicable, both the creditor at whose request they were issued and any other creditor in a materially like circumstance.