A law is an idea, placed in bill form, that has passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate and has not been (successfully) vetoed by the Governor. The legislature publishes laws in two forms:
session laws and statutes.
See also the FAQ: How do laws, statutes, and rules differ? and Making Laws, House Research Department, 2018.
Minnesota Statutes is a compilation of the general and permanent laws of the state, incorporating all new laws, amendments, or repeals of old law. It is printed every two years by the Revisor of Statutes Office. A supplement is issued in odd-numbered years to show changes made during that legislative session. The citation for laws contained in the supplement is "Minnesota Statutes 1989 Supplement, section 335.01." The statutes are also made available online at the Minnesota Legislature's website. The authenticated pdf version of each section is also an official version of the text, equivalent to the printed version. See Minnesota Statutes, chapter 3E.
Statutes are laws that apply to all citizens and cover a variety of topics, including the following: the Legislature, the executive branch, state departments, the judiciary and courts, tax policy, public safety and police authority, towns, cities, counties, commerce and trade, private property and private rights, civil injuries and remedies, and crimes against people and property and the penalties associated with them.
There are three definitions of a rule, depending on which branch of government you are referring to.
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.
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.
Act is the official name for a bill that has been enrolled for presentation to the Governor. Each act is assigned a chapter number and is published in the bound volume called the Session Laws of the State of Minnesota.
This book serves as the only official record for temporary and special laws, such as laws for a specific unit of government or a law containing an appropriation. Those laws are not compiled in the Minnesota Statutes.
The term "laws" refers to all laws passed by the Legislature, which are subsequently bound in the Session Laws of that year. Statutes are a codification of the general and permanent laws, which are compiled and published every year as Minnesota Statutes or its supplement. By being codified into Minnesota Statutes, the laws are placed into the context of statutes that have been on the books in previous years.
Sometimes, it is difficult to understand a law unless it is placed into the proper context in Minnesota Statutes. But remember that not all laws will become statutes. Some laws, such as ones passed for a specific town or city, and appropriation measures, aren't included in Minnesota Statutes. So you won't find the appropriations made by the 2000 Legislature in the same set of books that contain the Minnesota statutes prohibiting drunk driving. The appropriation bills are probably the best examples of laws that aren't statutes.
Why are some laws not included in statutes? The main reason is that appropriation laws are applicable for only two years, whereas laws included in the statutes are intended to be permanent. And because local laws do not apply on a general level, they are not included in the statutes.
Administrative rules are promulgated in a very different manner than laws. Rules are created by executive branch state agencies and not by the legislature. However, executive branch state agencies only have the authority to adopt administrative rules when granted that authority by the legislature. The purpose of rules is to "implement or make specific the law enforced or administered by that agency or... govern its organization or procedure" (Minn. Stat. 14.02, subd. 4). Though laws and rules are distinct, and the process by which they come about is distinct, once rules are adopted they have the force and effect of law.
State agencies must follow a strict process when adopting rules. The rulemaking process is explained in detail in the Minnesota Administrative Procedure Act and in Rulemaking in Minnesota: A Guide, published by the Revisor of Statutes.
Laws of a general and permanent nature having statewide application in Minnesota are coded in Minnesota Statutes. Use the Statutes topical index to look for statutes on a particular subject.
Special acts and certain other legislation are found only in the Session Laws of the year in which enacted (For example, see the "resources" box on the right-hand side in the 2021 Regular Session Laws for local laws enacted). Use the Laws search to look for laws on a particular subject.
Rules and regulations of state departments and agencies are found in Minnesota Administrative Rules and the Rules topical index helps identify relevant rules.
The combined index allows you to search the Statutes and Rules indexes together, and the document search allows you to search across state statutes, laws, and rules in one interface.
In addition, federal laws apply in Minnesota, and local ordinances and regulations apply in certain municipalities and jurisdictions.
Unless a specific effective date is provided in the bill, the act will take effect on August 1 following its final enactment (see Minnesota Statute 645.02). Bills containing an item of appropriation, however, take effect on July 1. A special law which requires approval of a local government unit becomes effective on the day following the day the certificate of approval is filed with the Minnesota Secretary of State, unless a specific later date is specified in the act. Each act takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on the day it becomes effective, unless a different time is specified in the act.
Electronic versions of Minnesota Statutes and Session Laws are available on the Legislative website.
The Legislative Reference Library has current and historical printed Minnesota Statutes, and Session Laws available for public use.
Some Minnesota Statutes and Session Laws from previous years are available for reference on a limited basis in the Senate Information Office, Room 231 State Capitol and Senate Index, Room 110 State Capitol and in the House Public Information Services, Room 175 State Office Building.
The Minnesota Statutes Archive page has past versions of the Minnesota Statutes back to 1851.
Two versions of Minnesota law published by the Revisor of Statutes are official publications:
1. The first official version consists of the printed and bound paper editions of Minnesota Statutes, Laws of Minnesota, and Minnesota Rules published annually by the Revisor's office. (See, Minnesota Statutes, sections 3C.06, 3C.08, 3C.11, 3C.13, and 14.47.)
2. The second official version consists of the online, authenticated PDFs of Minnesota statutes, laws, or rules, which have been designated as official records by the Revisor of Statutes under Minnesota Statutes, section 3E.04, subdivision 2.
Online versions of Minnesota law are available on the Minnesota Law page. To authenticate a PDF, click on the "authenticate" link located on the upper right side of a statute, law, or rule web page, and follow the prompts.
See the sample citations below, which are followed by notes on formatting.
Minn. Const. art. IV, sec. 8
Minn. Const. art. IV, sec. 8, online. Accessed August 19, 2016.
Minnesota Statutes 2015, section 3.302, subdivision 3
Minnesota Statutes 2015, section 3.302, subdivision 3, online. Accessed August 19, 2016.
MINN. STAT. 3.302 (2015)
MINN. STAT. ANN. 3.302 (2015)
Laws of Minnesota 1988, chapter 469, article 1, section 1
Laws of Minnesota 1988, chapter 469, article 1, section 1, online. Accessed August 19, 2016.
Laws of Minnesota 1985, 1st Spec. Sess. chapter 13, article 1, section 61
1988 Minn. Laws xxx (note: xxx is a page #)
Minnesota Rules 2015, part 1400.2070, subpart 2, item C
Minnesota Rules, part 1400.2070, subpart 2, item C, online. Accessed August 19, 2016.
MINN. R. 1400.2070 (2015)
Minn. S.F. 123 art. 4, sec. 5. (2015), online. Accessed August 19, 2016.
Minn. Sen. J., 89th Leg., Reg. Sess. xxx (2016) (note: xxx is a page #)
Minn. H.J., 89th Leg., Reg. Sess. xxx (2016) (note: xxx is a page #)
Minn. Sen., Floor Debate, 89th Minn. Leg., Reg. Sess. (May 23, 2016), available at: http://mnsenate.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=2 (audio)
Minn. Sen., Floor Debate, 89th Minn. Leg., Reg. Sess. (May 23, 2016), available at: http://mnsenate.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=1 (video web media)
Minn. H., Floor Debate, 89th Minn. Leg., Reg. Sess. (May 22, 2016, part 2), available at: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/htv/archivesHFS.asp?ls_year=89 (video web media)
Minn. Sen., Hearing on S.F. 2374 before the Sen. Comm. on Taxes, 89th Minn. Leg., Reg. Sess. (April 5, 2016), available at: http://mnsenate.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=1 (video web media)
Minn. H., Hearing on H.F. 3594 before the H. Comm. on Taxes, 89th Minn. Leg., Reg. Sess. (April 21, 2016), available at: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/cmte/archiveAV/cmtearchives.aspx?comm=89023&ls_year=89 (video web media)
The example is a Senate Counsel Bill Summary.
Minn. Sen. Judiciary Comm., 75th Minn. Leg., Summary of S.F. No. 2017, at 2 (Mar. 5, 1988) (report by Senate Counsel Allison Wolf)
In some instances, two citation formats are listed:
If you consult Minnesota's legal materials online, cite them in a way that makes that clear. A citation to online material will usually include three elements:
Section numbers, or coding, may be proposed in a bill for a new law, or in a bill which provides for adding a new section to a chapter of the statutes. However, coding may be added or changed by the Revisor of Statutes when necessary. Coding is technical in nature and is done at the time of editing and publishing the statutes. Each chapter of the statutes covers a broad subject and has a number. Sections under that chapter have the same number followed by a decimal point and another number.
Divisions of both Session Laws and Minnesota Statutes may be called chapters, but a reference to Minnesota Statutes will usually be to a section number. For example, chapter 335 of the statutes will be divided into sections, perhaps beginning with 335.01. The proper citation for this would be "Minnesota Statutes, section 335.01" or better yet, with the date included: "Minnesota Statutes 1990, section 335.01."
The numbers at the end of a section represent the history of that particular section. For example, [1959 c 67 s 3; 1963 c 861 s 10; 1974 c 370 s20] means that the section was new in 1959 and was contained in the Laws of Minnesota 1959, chapter 67, section 3. It was amended in Laws 1963, chapter 861, section 10, and amended again in Laws 1974, chapter 370, section 20. If you look up those chapters of those particular Session Laws, you will find what changes were made.
Please see the FAQ How do I cite Minnesota's legal sources? or contact the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library with additional questions.
Please email email@example.com for more information about how to purchase statutes, laws, and rules.
Electronic versions of Minnesota Statutes, Session Laws, and Administrative Rules are available on the Legislative website.