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Frequently Asked Questions About the Minnesota Legislature

What is a rule?

There are three definitions of a rule, depending on which branch of government you are referring to.

Procedural rules: In the Legislature, rules refer to the regulating principles or methods of procedure. The Minnesota Constitution, Minnesota Statutes, Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure, and custom and usage are all guidelines which determine legislative procedure. Each body adopts the rules under which it operates and the joint rules which govern joint conventions.

Administrative rules: In the executive branch of state government, rules are operating principles or orders created by an office of the state under authority granted by the Legislature. These administrative rules have the force and effect of law.

Administrative rules are not enacted by the Legislature. Rather, the Legislature gives state agencies or units the authority to establish rules. For more information on the difference between rules and laws, visit the Web page About Minnesota Rules.

Minnesota Court Rules are rules adopted by the Supreme Court of Minnesota, governing legal proceedings in the various courts in the state. Other documents that are included here are the Sentencing Guidelines, which are promulgated by the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission and the Lawyer's Professional Responsibility Board Opinions.

The court rules also contain court orders, notes, and comments of the drafters.