Accessing quality research when not part of an academic institution can be challenging. Dating back to the 1980s, open access (OA) was a response to journal publishers who restricted access to publications by requiring a subscription and limited access to knowledge. Although the OA movement seeks to remove costly barriers to accessing research, especially when funded by state and federal governments, it remains the subject of continuous debates. After providing a brief overview of OA, this article summarizes OA statutory and regulatory developments at the federal and state levels regarding free and open access to research. It compares similarities and differences among enacted and proposed legislation and describes the advantages and disadvantages of these laws. It analyzes the effects of these laws in higher education, especially on university faculty regarding tenure and promotion decisions as well as intellectual property rights to provide recommendations and best practices regarding the future of legislation and regulation in the United States.